Royal Observatory, Greenwich

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The Royal Observatory dates its foundation from two warrants issued under the name of Charles II. On 4 March 1675 John Flamsteed was appointed 'royal observator' to the King, and on the following 22 June another warrant authorised the construction of 'a small observatory within our royal park at Greenwich'. The first warrant stated that Flamsteed was 'to apply himself...so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places'. The second warrant gave the purpose of the construction of the observatory to be 'in order to find out the longitude of places'.

For more than two centuries the Royal Observatory functioned on an established staff of ten or less, under the Astronomers Royal. Two influences expanded the role of the Observatory towards the end of the nineteenth century. As the Observatory's founding warrants, and all those succeeding, directed that its work should be to perfect astronomical navigation, it concentrated initially on observational work. However, during William Christie's period as Astronomer Royal (1881-1910), the installation of more powerful instruments of a higher power at Greenwich, reflecting the Astronomer Royal's interest in physical astronomy, made it necessary to increase the number of staff. At the same time the organisation of the Observatory became more structured as it became affected by the greater influence of wider civil service procedures, and this departmentalisation also led to a higher number of staff. The title the Royal Greenwich Observatory first came into use in 1948. The role of the Astronomer Royals in the R.G.O. ended in 1971, following the retirement of Richard van der Reit Woolley.

From the guide to the Royal Greenwich Observatory: Records and Papers, 1675-1998, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Royal Observatory, Greenwich. John Pond Papers, 1811-1835. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Frank Watson Dyson Papers, 1875-1950. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Gold, Thomas. Oral history interview with Thomas Gold, 1978 April 1. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn HAMILTON AND GREVILLE PAPERS. Vol. X (ff. 109). Miscellaneous papers mainly belonging to the Hon. Charles Francis Greville:-(1) Scientific commonplace books, 17th cent., consisting chiefly of an abstract of Ioannes Magirus, Physiologiae Peripateticae..., 1600-1812 British Library
creatorOf Herschel Family. Papers, 1721-1951, (bulk 1810-1871). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Alan Hunter Papers, 1949-1975. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Richard van der Riet Woolley Papers, 1947-1975. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. John Flamsteed Papers, 1638-1725. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Papers and correspondence of William Hunter McCrea, Knight, mathematician, physicist and astronomer, 1904-1999, 1890-2004 Royal Holloway, University of London
creatorOf Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Positions of the sun, 1775-1798. US Naval Observatory, James M. Gilliss Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Edmond Halley Papers, 1677-1767. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Royal Greenwich Observatory: Records and Papers, 1675-1998 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Smyth, W. H. (William Henry), 1788-1865. Correspondence, 1820-1864. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. William Henry Mahoney Christie Papers, 1878-1940. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory: Records and Papers, 1675-1998 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Nevil Maskselyne Papers, ca. 1743-ca. 1822. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sir Isaac Newton: Papers, 1612-1886 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn MCGEE, Professor James Dwyer (1903-1987), 1937-1979 Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Alexander Boksenberg Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Royal Observatory, Greenwich. James Bradley Papers (including Nathaniel Bliss Papers), 1723-1804. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. Papers, 1862-1939 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Jones, Burton Fredrick, 1942-. Oral history interview Burton Fredrick Jones, 1977 July 16. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn MISCELLANE0US LETTERS AND PAPERS, viz.:-A. Letter from Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, Italian statesman, to Nassau William Senior, economist, forwarding a publication of the Sardinian government on charitable institutions; 4 Jan. 1842. French. For a..., 1100-1936 British Library
referencedIn Maskelyne, Nevil, 1732-1811. Papers of Nevil Maskelyne, 1771-1809. Libraries Australia
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIf, 1866-1886 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Eleanor Margaret Burbidge Papers, 1961-1974. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Airy, George Biddell, Sir, 1801-1892. Papers, 1710-1890 Royal Observatory, Greenwich
referencedIn Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Selected correspondence [microform], 1927-1955. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations. Phase II: Space Science and Geophysics. International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) (Space Science): Oral history interviews, 1992-1994. American Institute of Physics
creatorOf Airy, George Biddell, Sir, 1801-1892. Papers, 1833-1890 National Library of Australia.
referencedIn University Of California At Santa Cruz, Library, Lick Observatory Archives. E. S. Holden Folder.
referencedIn W. H. (William Henry) Smyth correspondence, 1820-1864, 1820-1864 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Maskelyne, Nevil, 1732-1811. Papers, 1760-1805. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Observatory, Greenwich. John Pond Papers, 1811-1835. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Royal Greenwich Observatory. Harold Spencer Jones Papers, 1920-1968. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 233: House Of Representatives.
referencedIn Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Oral history interview with Robert d'Escourt Atkinson, 1977. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn University Of Michigan, Clements Library, Manuscripts Div.. Henry Stevens Papers.
referencedIn Alexander, Stephen, 1806-1883. Letter, 1858 Mar. 20. Historical Society of Princeton
referencedIn Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Robert d'Escourt Atkinson papers, 1893-1981. Indiana University
creatorOf Royal Observatory, Greenwich. James Bradley Papers (including Nathaniel Bliss Papers), 1723-1804. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Adams, John Quincy person
associatedWith Airy, George Biddell, Sir, 1801-1892 person
associatedWith Airy, George Biddell, Sir, 1801-1892. person
associatedWith Alexander, Stephen, 1806-1883. person
associatedWith American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics. Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations. Phase II: Space Science and Geophysics. corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Appleton, Edward Victor, Sir, 1892-1965. person
associatedWith Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. person
associatedWith Blaauw, Adriaan. person
associatedWith Boksenberg, Alec person
associatedWith Bradley, James, 1693?-1762 person
associatedWith Bradley, James, 1693?-1762. person
associatedWith Burbidge, E. Margaret person
associatedWith Cavendish, Henry, 1731-1810. person
associatedWith Charles II, King of England. person
associatedWith Charles II, King of England, 1630-1685. person
associatedWith Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967. person
associatedWith Dyson, Frank Watson, 1868-1939. person
associatedWith Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944. person
associatedWith Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1841-1910. person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955. person
associatedWith Elizabeth II Queen of Great Britain, 1926- person
associatedWith Fizeau, H. 1819-1896. person
associatedWith Flamsteed, John, 1646-1719. person
associatedWith Flamsteed, John, 1646-1719. person
associatedWith Gauss, Carl Friedrich, 1777-1855. person
associatedWith Gold, Thomas. person
associatedWith Graham-Smith, Francis, Sir, 1923- person
associatedWith Great Britain. Admiralty. corporateBody
associatedWith Great Britain. Admiralty. corporateBody
associatedWith Great Britain. Board of Ordnance. corporateBody
associatedWith Great Britain HM Nautical Almanac Office corporateBody
associatedWith Halley, Edmond, 1656-1742. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Henry VIII, King of England, 1491-1547. person
associatedWith Herschel Family. family
associatedWith Herschel, William, Sir, 1738-1822. person
associatedWith Herschel, William, Sir, 1738-1822. person
correspondedWith Holden, Edward S. person
correspondedWith Hughes, Christopher person
associatedWith Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos. corporateBody
associatedWith Jones, Burton Fredrick, 1942- person
associatedWith Jones, H. Spencer 1890-1960. person
associatedWith Kew Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Le Verrier, U.-J. 1811-1877. person
associatedWith Lodge, Oliver, Sir, 1851-1940. person
associatedWith Maskelyne, Nevil, 1732-1811. person
associatedWith Maskelyne, Nevil, 1732-1811. person
associatedWith McGee, James Dwyer, 1903-1987 person
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon, 1835-1909. person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727. person
associatedWith Northern Hemisphere Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Redman, Roderick Oliver, 1905-1975. person
associatedWith Roque de los Muchachos Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Greenwich Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Greenwich Observatory person
associatedWith Royal Greenwich Observatory 1675-1998 corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Observatory, Greenwich. corporateBody
associatedWith Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. person
associatedWith Science and Engineering Research Council (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith Sir Isaac Newton person
associatedWith Sir William Hunter McCrea, mathematician, physicist and astronomer, 1904-1999 person
associatedWith Smyth, W. H. (William Henry), 1788-1865. person
correspondedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. person
associatedWith Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901. person
associatedWith Woolley, Richard van der Reit, Sir. person
associatedWith Woolley, Richard van der Riet, Sir. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hemingby, Lincolnshire
London, England
Paris, France
Sutton-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire
Trusthorpe, Lincolnshire
England
Great Britain
England
England
Greenwich, Kent
South America--Brazil--Sobral
East Winch, alias Pedders Winch
Moon
Prime Meridian
Great Britain
England
South America--Brazil
Africa, West
Walkeringham, Nottinghamshire
Coningsby, Lincolnshire
Moon
England
England
England
Clayworth, Nottinghamshire
England
Great Britain
Sun
England
Earth
Cambrai, France
England
England
Subject
Quarreling--18th century
Stars--Catalogs--18th century
Radio programs, Public service--Scientific applications
Gravitation (Constant of)--Experiments
Prime meridian--Research
Astrophysics--Research
Telescopes (Astronomy)--Design and construction
Solar eclipses--1898
Astronomy--Research
Solar eclipses--1905
Solar eclipses
Solar eclipses--Observations--1919
Science--Awards
Astronomical observatories--Cost of operation
Astronomical instruments--Costs
Chronometers--Testing
Asteroids--Observations
Astronomical instruments
Telegraph (Technology)
World War, 1939-1945--Destruction and pillage
Astronomy--Observations--International cooperation
Communication in science--18th century
Transit-circle
Time measurements
Weather--Observation
World War, 1914-1918--Economic aspects
Scientific expeditions
Meteorology--Technological innovations
Astronomy--Mathematics
Astronomy
Astronomers--Correspondence
Science--Early works to 1800
Astronomical observatories
Lead mines and mining
Eros (Asteroid)--Observations
Navigation
Nutation (Astronomy)
Comets
World War, 1939-1945--Science
Astronomical photography--Technological innovations
Time-signals--Technological innovations
Time--Systems and standards
Stars--Catalogs
Reflecting telescopes--Design and construction
Astronomy--Observations
Relativity (Physics)--Observations
World War, 1939-1945--War work
Time--Systems and standards--18th century
Solar eclipses--1900
Mathematics--Research
World War, 1914-1918--Science
Astronomy--Data processing
Astronomical observatories--Administration--18th century
Planets--Research
Astronomy--Observations--18th century
Spherical astronomy--Research--18th century
Astronomical observatories--Administration
Telescopes (Astronomy)
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Establishment 1675

Disestablishment 1990

Britons

Latin,

English

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