An early setback, when Sir Joseph Banks induced the Duke of Somerset to withdraw his agreement to be the first President, was overcome when Sir William Herschel agreed to be the titular first President, though he never actually took the Chair at a meeting.
The original objectives were simply the promotion of astronomy; the newer subject of geophysics, which had been steadily gaining ground in the interests of the Fellows, was added later.
After much negotiation a Royal Charter was signed by William IV on 7 March 1831, and the Society assumed the name it has used ever since.
The Society at first met in various locations, including the rooms of the Geological Society, then in Bedford St, Covent Garden.
Rooms were subsequently rented, for 50 guineas, from the Medical and Chirurgical (i.e.
The invention of the telescope two centuries earlier certainly helped astronomers see things they could not before, but they still relied on their eyes to see them, limiting how quantitative they could be.
The invention of photography changed that: astronomers no longer had to rely on what their eyes could see (and imperfectly record) but instead create images that were both aesthetically dazzling as well as scientifically useful.
The French astronomer Charles Messier compiled a catalogue of these fuzzy blobs or "nebulae" so he could distinguish which fuzzy blob might be a new comet which was what he was interested in finding.