Astronomer Royal

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, and the second 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, "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 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 an astronomer royal for Ireland known as the Royal Astronomer of Ireland.

Astronomers Royal

* 1675-1719 John Flamsteed
* 1720-1742 Edmond Halley
* 1742-1762 James Bradley
* 1762-1764 Nathaniel Bliss
* 1765-1811 Nevil Maskelyne
* 1811-1835 John Pond
* 1835-1881 George Airy
* 1881-1910 William Christie
* 1910-1933 Frank Dyson
* 1933-1955 Harold Spencer Jones
* 1956-1971 Richard van der Riet Woolley
* 1972-1982 Martin Ryle
* 1982-1990 Francis Graham-Smith
* 1991-1995 Arnold Wolfendale
* 1995-"present" Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow


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