I'd like to configure some of my notebooks to assume all calculations using dates, times and locations (notably AstronomicalData , but others too) take place at the Greenwich Observatory.

I know I can achieve this by unprotecting $TimeZone and setting it to 0, as with

    $GeoLocation = {51.476786, 0.00000000};
    $TimeZone = 0;

but worry that this might have some other consequences that would confuse date and time functions.

Is it safe to do this? Does changing the value of $TimeZone have side effects I should avoid?

  • $\begingroup$ Can't you put it in a Block? In any case, I don't see any side effects, other than some date conversions and W|A calls getting messed up. $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @rm-rf: Block, if you mean Block[{$TimeZone=0}, ...], wasn't working for me for some functions, at least not DateList]. Also, I'd prefer to make the change global, rather than have to remember to make the change each time I do something that depends on it. $\endgroup$
    – orome
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ Why not use TimeZone? That's what is seems to be for. E.g. Table[DateString[TimeZone -> i], {i, 0, 6}] from the documentation. $\endgroup$
    – DavidC
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidCarraher: All calculations, globally. Forgetting to do that just once could really mess things up, and that's what I'm trying to avoid. $\endgroup$
    – orome
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @rm-rf: Hmmm... Block may not work, simply because DateList looks broken. Try $TimeZone=0 and then DateList[...,TimeZone->0]. That should leave the date given unchanged, but (if you're machine timezone isn't 0) it won't. I may not even be able to do what I want with a global change of $TimeZone. $\endgroup$
    – orome
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


As the Locale & Internalization guide page says $TimeZone is resettable.

Mathematica graphics

If the developers would foresee adverse effects I guess they wouldn't have documented it in this way. The only problem that I can see is that you have to take care that your system time is also set to GMT, otherwise real-time calculations (e.g., elevation of the sun as seen in Greenwich at the time of evaluation) will give the incorrect result.


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