On This Day

Edmond Halley

Astronomer, Mathematician and Physicist Edmond Halley

Profession: Astronomer, Mathematician and Physicist


Biography: Edmund Halleys' reputation mainly rests on his discovery of the orbit of Halley's Comet, named after him but he was widely involved in a number of scientific endeavors.

Halley was educated at Queens' College, Oxford where he was influenced by the work of Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed's work to catalog the starts of the northern hemisphere.

In 1676 Halley began a voyage to St Helena in the southern hemisphere and had cataloged more than 300 stars by his return in 1678, publishing it later that year. As a result he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

Halley was instrumental in bringing Issac Newton's discoveries on planetary motion to publication, editing and overseeing the printing of Newton's "Principia" in 1687.

IN 1705 Halley published his own work A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets, in which he detailed the orbits of known comets and made the case that 3 were actually the same comet returning. He also successfully predicted its return in 1758.

In 1720 Halley was appointed Astronomer Royal at Greenwich.

Born: November 8, 1656
Birthplace: Haggerston, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Star Sign: Scorpio

Died: January 14, 1742 (aged 85)

Historical Events

  • 1673-07-24 Edmund Halley enters The Queen's College, Oxford, as an undergraduate
  • 1678-12-03 Edmond Halley receives MA from The Queen's College, Oxford
  • 1679-04-03 Edmond Halley meets Johannes Hevelius in Danzig
  • 1682-08-26 English astronomer Edmond Halley first observes the comet named after him
  • 1684-12-10 Isaac Newton's derivation of Kepler's laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, is read to the Royal Society by Edmond Halley
  • 1694-12-12 The Royal Society censures Edmond Halley for suggesting in a paper titled 'Some considerations about the cause of the universal deluge' that the story of Noah's flood could be an account of a cometary impact
  • 1715-05-03 Edmond Halley observes total eclipse phenomenon "Baily's Beads"
  • 1720-02-10 Edmond Halley appointed as the second Astronomer Royal at the Greenwich Observatory

Quotes by Edmond Halley

  • "This sight... is by far the noblest astronomy affords."

Biographies and Sources