The Royal Observatory was originally built so that observations could be made to improve the Navy's navigational tables by astronomical means. This went hand in hand with the accurate measurement of time for which the Observatory became more generally famous in the 19th century.
• 4 March 1675
- John Flamsteed is appointed by Charles II
as 'the King's Astronomical Observator'
• 18 April 1675
- Flamsteed's first recorded Tower observation
• Summer 1675
- Work begins on building the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren
- Flamsteed is appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society
Although there is no contemporary evidence where exactly Flamsteed’s observations were carried out, it seems reasonable that he might have made use of the roof of the White Tower
as the highest point on site. Today the North East turret of the White Tower is still known as the Flamsteed Tower.
Sir Jonas Moore (1617-1679)
John Flamsteed (1646-1719)
clergyman and mathematician
Although Flamsteed lacked any formal scientific education, he absorbed himself in the study of astronomy and arithmetic and corresponded with leading scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton.
From 1670 his friendship with Sir Jonas Moore, the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, and Moore’s patronage of his career brought him to royal attention. Appointed ‘Astronomical Observator’ in 1675, he was in effect the first Astronomer Royal and in charge of running the Royal Observatory.
After the English Civil Wars, Moore emerged in 1650 as an established mathematics teacher and author of a book on arithmetic. Appointed surveyor, his first government commission was mapping the Thames from Westminster to the sea in 1662.
From 1669 he lived in the Tower, and it was at the Tower that he first entertained Flamsteed in 1674. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he counted among his friends Samuel Pepys, Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. He was also instrumental in establishing the Royal Observatory.
He died having contracted a fever during a visit to Portsmouth, and is buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.