Sunday, August 19, 2012
In 1675 Flamsteed visited London and with the help of Moore was able to get an audience with king Charles II. Flamsteed had won the favor of the king by building a barometer for him the previous year. Charles II appointed Flamsteed his Royal Astronomer. Greenwich Observatory was built for his observations and he began observing there in 1676. Flamsteed was a careful observer and his project was to observe and catalog the locations of the stars. Over the forty years of his project he cataloged the positions of 3000 stars. Flamsteed was a meticulous worker and did not want to publish any results until they all were checked. Isaac Newton became impatient for the results of the catalog and obtained a pirated copy of the work, which he and Edmund Hally published. Flamsteed was so angry at this that he obtained 300 of the 400 copies that were printed and burned them. Because of this Flamsteed came to view Newton and Halley as his enemies. The finished catalog was not published until 1725.
Other accomplishments credited to Flamesteed include accurate predictions of the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668 and the invention of the conical projection which is used in cartography. Even before his visit to London and appointment to become the first astronomer royal, Flamsteed had been ordained and he served as a parish priest in Burstow, Surrey. Honors won by Flamsteed include election to the Royal Society in 1677 and a crater on the moon and an asteroid named after him.
Flamsteed died on December 31, 1719 and he was replaced as astronomer royal by his enemy Edmund Hally.
O'Conner, J.J. and Robertson, E.F.; "John Flamsteed"; found at www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk
Moulton, Charles Wells; Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors, Vol. 2, 1639-1729; Henry Malkan, Publisher; 1910
John Flamsteed Wikipedia Entry