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, 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.
There was also formerly an astronomer royal for Ireland known as the Royal Astronomer of Ireland.
|Rev'd John Flamsteed||1675 1719|
|Professor Edmond Halley||1720 1742|
|Dr James Bradley||1742 1762|
|Nathaniel Bliss||1762 1764|
|Rev'd Nevil Maskelyne||1765 1811|
|John Pond||1811 1835|
|Sir George Biddell Airy||1835 1881|
|Sir William Christie||1881 1910|
|Sir Frank Dyson||1910 1933|
|Sir Harold Spencer Jones||1933 1955|
|Professor Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley||1956 1971|
|Professor Sir Martin Ryle||1972 1982|
|Professor Sir Francis Graham-Smith||1982 1990|
|Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale||1991 1995|
|Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow||1995 present day|