Flamsteed (1646-1719) was England’s first Astronomer Royal, charged with improving star positions accurately enough to determine longitude at sea. In 1676, he completed the building of the Greenwich Observatory.
Flamsteed’s star atlas, published posthumously, became the most celebrated and influential star atlas of the 18th century. At the time, it was the largest star atlas ever printed. Its 28 copperplate engravings include 25 double-page star charts and 2 double-page planisphere maps.
Constellation figures are viewed from the front, matching the traditional names of stars. Sir James Thornhill was among the artists who designed the constellation figures in a Rococo style that was soon copied in Paris and Berlin.
Flamsteed determined star positions using observing instruments equipped with telescopic sights (a first among major atlases).
Newton relied on Flamsteed’s star coordinates, made available to him at an earlier date, for his theory of universal gravitation and his explanation of the motion of the Moon.
More than 3,000 stars are presented, double the number in the Hevelius atlas.