Astronomer Royal

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Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. There are two officers, the senior being the Astronomer Royal dating from June 22, 1675, and the second the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, which dates from 1834.

King Charles II, who founded the Royal Observatory Greenwich in 1675 instructed the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, "to apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation."

From that time until 1972 the Astronomer Royal was Director of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. As Astronomer Royal he receives a stipend of £100 a year and is a member of the Royal Household, under the general authority of the Lord Chamberlain. After the separation of the two offices the position of Astronomer Royal has been largely honorary, though he remains available to advise the Sovereign on astronomical and related scientific matters, and the office is of great prestige.

List of Astronomers Royal[change | edit source]

Rev'd John Flamsteed 16751719
Professor Edmond Halley 17201742
Dr James Bradley 17421762
Nathaniel Bliss 17621764
Rev'd Nevil Maskelyne 17651811
John Pond 18111835
Sir George Biddell Airy 18351881
Sir William Christie 18811910
Sir Frank Dyson 19101933
Sir Harold Spencer Jones 19331955
Professor Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley 19561971
Professor Sir Martin Ryle 19721982
Professor Sir Francis Graham-Smith 19821990
Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale 19911995
Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow 1995