Edmond Halley


January 20, 2022

Edmond Halley is sometimes “Edmund,” (Haggerston, 8 November 1656 - Greenwich, 14 January 1742) an English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist and physicist; eminent polyhistor naturalist. He was the second royal astronomer (Astronomer Royal) after John Flamsteed.


He was born in the village of Haggerston, near London (now attached), on October 29, 1656, according to the Julian calendar still used in England at that time (November 8 in the Gregorian calendar). His father was a good soap maker, a businessman, and a landowner. He studied at St. Paul's School in London and was interested in mathematics as a child. In 1673 he went to Oxford University (Queen’s College) but did not complete his studies. In 1676 he sailed to the island of St. Ilona to draw a star map of the southern sky. Returning home in 1678, he was elected a member of the Royal Society. He married in 1682 and settled in Islington, now part of London. In 1682 he opened his own observatory in North London. In January 1686, he suspended his membership of the Royal Society to become a paid employee of the Society. For the next few years he carried out his scientific work in addition to his administrative duties at the Royal Society. In 1691 the post of head of the Department of Astronomy (Savil's) became vacant in Oxford. Halley would have been an ideal candidate if ecclesiastical authorities had not prevented this because of his views on the age of the Earth and his well-known atheism. Although he applied for the job, his application was rejected due to resistance from church authorities. In November 1703 he was appointed professor of Savil's Department of Geometry at the University of Oxford. In addition to his scientific merits, this was largely due to his public services, but the fact that his theological opponents had died by then had also helped him gain office. In 1710 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford. In 1720 he became a royal astronomer. He died in Greenwich in 1742. He died on January 14, 1742, shortly after his eighty-fifth birthday. It rests in a cemetery next to Lee St. Margaret’s Church, now part of London.

Your work

Early observations

By the time he arrived at Queen’s College in 1673, he was already an avid astronomer who had acquired some observation routine with the instruments his father had purchased. He also took some of his instruments to Oxford, including a 24-foot binoculars and a 2-foot-diameter sextant. Even as a university student, he began corresponding in 1675 with John Flamsteed, barely ten years older, who was appointed in March 1675 by II. King Charles appointed the first royal astronomer to head the newly established Greenwich Observatory. He reported that some of his observations did not match the data in some astronomical tables and suggested that the tables were inaccurate. He asked Flamsteed to substantiate his observations. He even visited Flamsteed in London that summer and helped him with observations, including during the lunar eclipse of June 27 and December 21. Halley published three scientific articles in 1676: one about the orbits of the planets, one of the events on which the moon obscured Mars on August 21, and one on the observation of a huge sunspot in the summer of 1676.

Star Catalog

He waited impatiently for him to gain a reputation and run a career as an astronomer. He knew that at the Royal Observatory, Flamsteed's first task was to examine the northern sky with modern tools to correct inaccuracies in older star catalogs. He was determined to begin a similar line of observation in the southern sky. His father supported the idea and also added £ 300 a year in apanage. Halley St. Ilona Island

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