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 22 June 1675; the second is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland dating from 1834.

King Charles II, who founded the Royal Observatory Greenwich in 1675 instructed the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, "... forthwith to apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying 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 the art of navigation."[1]

From that time until 1972 the Astronomer Royal was Director of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. As Astronomer Royal he receives a stipend of 100 GBP per 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.

There was also formerly a Royal Astronomer of Ireland.

Astronomers Royal


John Flamsteed (1675) · Edmond Halley (1720) · James Bradley (1742) · Nathaniel Bliss (1762) · Nevil Maskelyne (1765) · John Pond (1811) · George Biddell Airy (1835) · William Christie (1881) · Frank Watson Dyson (1910) · Harold Spencer Jones (1933) · Richard van der Riet Woolley (1956) · Martin Ryle (1972) · Francis Graham-Smith (1982) · Arnold Wolfendale (1991) · Martin Rees (1995)

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