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Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Households 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."
From that time until 1972, the Astronomer Royal was Director of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The Astronomer Royal 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.
- 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 Sir George Biddell Airy
- 1881–1910 Sir William Christie
- 1910–1933 Sir Frank Dyson
- 1933–1955 Sir Harold Spencer Jones
- 1956–1971 Sir Richard van Riet Woolley
- 1972–1982 Sir Martin Ryle
- 1982–1990 Sir Francis Graham-Smith
- 1991–1995 Sir Arnold Wolfendale
- 1995–present Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow
- F Baily, "An Account of the Rev. John Flamsteed", reprinted in vol.28,at p.293. "The Museum of foreign literature, science and art", R Walsh et al., publ. E Litell, 1836.