In 1899 the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory was built as part of an international project to measure the earth's wobble on its polar axis.
The Gaithersburg Observatory and five others in Japan, Italy, Russia and the United States gathered information that is still used by scientists today, along with information obtained from satellites, to determine polar motion; the size, shape, and physical properties of the earth; and to aid the space program through the precise navigational patterns of orbiting satellites.
The Gaithersburg station operated until 1982 when computerization rendered the manual observation obsolete.
The City now has the original Zenith telescope used at the observatory starting in 1899. It was one of the four made by Julius Wanschaff in Berlin, for the International Geodetic Association Latitude Service.