Scientists measuring height of Washington Monument

WASHINGTON – No one wants the Washington Monument to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

That’s why government scientists are busy this week working both at the monument’s top and at ground level to get a super-accurate new measurement of the monument’s height, which is more than 555 feet.

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey wants to take advantage of the scaffolding that is covering the obelisk while it’s still in place. The scaffolding that has surrounded the monument during earthquake restoration is due to be removed soon.

At the monument’s highest point, they’ve placed not only a GPS receiver, but equipment that uses beams of light to measure distance.

“This is the first time really since 1934 that we’re able to put this type of instrument up at the peak itself,” said Chief Geodesist Dru Smith at a demonstration of the equipment Thursday.

The work is part of an ongoing effort to preserve the National Mall’s monuments and make sure measurements are up to date and as accurate as technology allows.

The good news is, it doesn’t look like the 2011 earthquake made the monument any shorter.

“We don’t think the earthquake caused anything to sink at all,” Smith said, adding that checks were done for that last year.

Processing the data that’s collected this week will take some time, so the Washington Monument’s official new height is not expected to be announced for a month or two.

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