Flamsteed Court, SE13




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John Flamsteed (August 19, 1646 – December 31, 1719) was the first Astronomer Royal at the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich Park. He catalogued some 3,000 stars which he compiled into Catalogus Britannicus, and created a star atlas called Atlas Coelestis. He also made the first recorded observations of Uranus, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a star. Born in Denby, Derbyshire, he attended Jesus College, Cambridge, where he heard Isaac Newton’s Lucasian Lectures. Originally destined for a career in the priesthood, he was introduced to King Charles II, who was putting together a team to help solve the mystery of Longitude, which would help navigation around the world. In March 1675, Flamsteed was made The King’s Astronomical Observator – the first English Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of £100 a year. Within a few months of the appointment, he laid the foundation stone to the Royal Observatory, and when it was completed moved in. He stayed there until 1684, when he was “[e]levated to the priesthood [and] appointed rector” of the small village of Burstow, near Crawley in Surrey. He held that office, as well as that of Astronomer Royal, until his death. Among this other findings that revolutionised astronomy, Flamsteed accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He also theorised that two great comets observed in November and December 1680 were not separate bodies, but rather a single comet travelling first towards the Sun and then away from it.

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