celestial meridian


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celestial meridian

n.
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The basic principle was that there would be a team of observers, each of whom maintained continuous watch during the observing session of a specified sky area lying on the celestial meridian. These areas had to overlap so that the satellite could not cross this meridian fence without hopefully being detected.
At least a dozen Moonwatch members were needed to create an "optical fence" along the celestial meridian. To do so, they placed telescopes along a north-south line along the ground, aligning each scope to a central tall pole topped with a crossbar.
Heilbron's title refers specifically to the precise projections of the celestial meridian on a spate of church floors during this period (and well into the nineteenth century).