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John Flamsteed
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John Flamsteed

John Flamsteed, astronomer, was born on August 19, 1646 in Denby, Derbyshire, England. He was ordained deacon and was preparing to take up a living in Derbyshire, when he was invited to London. On March 4, 1675, he was appointed by royal warrant "The King's Astronomical Observator" - the first British Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of 100 a year. In June 1675, another royal warrant provided for the founding of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and Flamsteed laid the foundation stone in August. In February 1676, he was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in July, he moved into the Observatory where he lived until 1684, when he was finally appointed priest to the parish of Burstow, Surrey. He held that office, as well as that of Astronomer Royal, until his death on January 12, 1719. In 1720 he is buried at Burstow, Surrey.

In 1666 and 1668, Flamsteed calculated accurately the solar eclipses. He is responsible for one of the earliest recorded sightings of the planet Uranus, which he mistook for a star and catalogued as 34 Tauri.

Flamsteed is also remembered for his conflicts with Isaac Newton, then President of the Royal Society, who attempted to steal some of Flamsteed's findings for his own work. Newton tricked Flamsteed into doing so through an edict from the King, and produced the findings without crediting Flamsteed. Some years later, Flamsteed managed to buy most copies of the books back, and publicly burnt them in front of the Royal Observatory.

Preceded by:
Astronomer Royal
1675-1719
Followed by:
Edmond Halley