Thanks for that but I would like to point out that the United Kingdom consists of more than just ENGLAND. So GMT is in effect used by the UNITED KINGDOM that way you do not exclude those living in WALES, SCOTLAND and N IRELAND, who are all part of the UNITED KINGDOMThere is a lot of unnecessary confusion about time zones. Kingdoms of Camelot is played world-wide and it’s important for players to understand how they work, why they change and how to convert from one zone to another.
The first step is simple – do not think of time zones as “places”. They are not set locations placed on the map. Time-zones are usually defined by geographical locations, but are much more flexible.
To elaborate even more on this point, let me explain. Think of a time zone as you would a full moon or high tide. You cannot go to a full moon or high tide any more than you can go “visit” a time zone. You can; however, go visit a city or place that is currently experiencing a specific time zone, high tide or full moon.
Now, time zones were established to help us determine and track time changes across the globe (after all, it can’t be noon everywhere on Earth at the same time). It also helps us maintain our sleep and work schedules by defining what is “day” and what is “night”. The problem with this system is that seasons change – meaning that 9:00 AM might be pitch black for part of the year and bright sunshine the other half. So, Daylight Savings Time (or DST to save room) was invented to help even it out – maximizing the use of daylight hours in a specific location. To do this, countries or locations simply adjust the time zone that they are in.
The problem, of course, is that this system means that time zones everywhere were always changing and there was no “standard” or point of reference. So, GMT was invented. GMT (or Greenwich Mean Time), also called UTC (short for Coordinated Universal Time) or Zulu [Time] (In military transmissions, the use of GMT as a reference is designated by the letter “z” – so 1300hrs GMT became 1300z. Since the letter z is articulated as the word “Zulu”, the military usually just refers to “Zulu” instead of GMT.)
GMT (as we will call it here), is a time zone at the longitude: 0 degrees 0 minutes – otherwise known as the Prime Meridian. It is a constant – meaning that it does not change with the seasons. Militaries, large international companies and banking systems all use GMT as a reference when dealing with other parts of the world. The relationship between GMT and other time zones may change, but only because those other time zones are adjusted for DST.
With me so far? Now, let’s put it all together.
First, keep in mind that even though the time zones are adjusted for DST, their name does not change. So, in the spring, when the US adjusts the clocks forward by an hour, it’s still called the Eastern time zone.
The UK is an exception to this – England uses the term British Summer Time (or BST) to denote that it is currently in DST and 1 hour ahead of GMT. (Contrary to popular belief, UK time is not the same as GMT. During the winter months, UK time is in the same time zone as GMT; however, when England sets their clocks ahead 1 hour in the Spring, they jump ahead an hour to become GMT+1.)
Now, here is the kicker – not all countries practice DST and the ones that do change their clocks at different times.
- Not all countries adjust their clocks for seasonal changes. These countries are usually either really close to, or really distant from the equator. At those extremes, the changes to daylight hours is minimal and there isn’t a point. (after all, why bother changing the clocks if your country gets 11 hrs of sunshine in the winter and 11.5 hrs of sunshine in the summer. Or, as an opposite, why bother changing the clocks when the daylight hours increase from 5 hrs to 7hrs per day.)
- [This one is rather important at this time of year!] Countries do not all change the clocks at the same time.
For example, the UK will be changing their clocks backward 1 hr (to once again coincide with GMT) on Sunday, 30 October 2011 at 02:00 local time (which, as I write this, is the day after tomorrow). The US, on the other hand, does not change it’s clocks back for another week – on 6 November. While the time difference between the Eastern coast of the US and the UK is normally 5 hrs – the time difference for that week will only be 4 hrs. At that point, the US will set their clocks back 1 hour and the time difference will become 5 hrs again.
The same thing will happen in the Spring. On 11 March, 2012 the US will spring their clocks forward by 1 hr; however, the UK won’t change theirs until the 25th – meaning that for those 2 weeks, the time difference between the US and the UK will once again be reduced to 4 hrs.
There are a number of websites, browser add-ons and desktop widgets that will either display multiple time zones or allow you to convert them easily. For example, I routinely use the time converter at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html (simply because it doesn’t only let me convert the present time, but the time for any date I specify).
Well, I hope this helps,