Edmond Halley

Edmond or Edmond Halley was an important and renowned English scientist who is best known for predicting the orbit of a comet that would later receive his name in his honor. Although he is remembered primarily as an astronomer , he also made important discoveries in the fields of geophysics, mathematics , meteorology, and physics . He was a great collaborator of Newton in the work that was carried out on the gravitational attraction of bodies, and he was also the first astronomer who managed to predict that comets would return every certain amount of time near the earth.

Personal information:

  • When was he born:  11/08/1656
  • Where he was born:  London, England
  • When he died:  01/14/1742
  • Where he died:  London, England

Who was Edmond Halley?

Important English astronomer , scientist and mathematician who was the first to calculate the orbit of a comet that later bears his name and to catalog the stars.

Edmund Halley Biography:

Edmund Halley was born in a town called Hagges, which was located near London in England, on October 29, 1656. He was descended from a Derbyshire family who were a wealthy group that made soap when the use of this began to spread throughout Europe.

His father suffered a great loss during the Great Fire of London, which occurred in 1666 when Halley was a child. Despite this loss, his father gave him a good education and for this reason Edmund Halley took private lessons in his own home.

Halley began his education at St. Paul’s School in London. He had the good fortune to live a period of scientific revolution that established the basis of modern thought. He was four years old when the monarchy was restored under Charles II; two years later, the new monarch awarded a charter to the informal organization of natural philosophers originally called the ‘invisible university’, which later became officially known as the Royal Society of London .

Halley entered Queen’s College at Oxford in 1673 and was introduced by letter to John Flamsteed, who was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1676. On one or two occasions, Edmund Halley visited the Royal Greenwich Observatory, where Flamsteed made his work, and where he was encouraged to study astronomy .

In 1696 Edmund Halley was appointed as controller of the Chester Mint . In 1704 he was appointed Geometric Chair Professor at Oxford. He supported Newton on the calculus. In 1720, he rose as an astronomer royal and was appointed director of the Greenwich Observatory where he worked for 21 years.


Edmund Halley’s main contributions are as follows:

  • In 1682 he managed to spot and calculate the orbit of the comet that today bears his name, Halley’s Comet , and not only that, but he also announced his return by the end of the year 1758. In this way he contributed his theory, the which consisted of defending the existence of comets that had their own elliptical trajectory and that were associated with the solar system .
  • In 1684 Edmund Halley met with Isaac Newton , to seek an explanation of the mechanics of planetary motion .
  • In 1691 Halley provided the construction of a bell of diving , which proved in the river Thames , and thus remain Logron over half an hour and immersed.
  • He contributed different works such as, for example, “Synopsis astronomiae cometicae” in 1705, in which he applied the laws of motion that Newton had developed to comets.
  • He described the parabolic trajectory of 24 comets that had been observed up to the year 1698.
  • He showed that the three historical comets, from 1531, 1607, and 1682 were similar in their characteristics to those seen in 1305, 1380, and 1456.
  • He predicted that Halley’s Comet named after him would return in 1758.
  • Other of his most important contributions in astronomy were: he managed to demonstrate that there was movement in the stars and that each one of them enjoyed the same, he studied the complete revolution of the moon, he drew up astronomical tables.

Edmund Halley Legacy:

Halley’s name will always remain on everyone’s mind because it is closely related to the comet whose return he accurately predicted. Edmund Halley was held in high esteem by his contemporaries and by the generation of scientists that followed him. But more than any of his own discoveries, he may be more remembered as the one that instigated Isaac Newton to publish the Principles , a work that many consider the greatest monument to man’s scientific achievement.

Newton, who had already made a name for himself in science through his earlier discoveries, could never have achieved the great reputation that has endured for centuries without publishing his theory of universal gravitation. Halley will always be known as the forward-thinking person who made it possible.

His legacy includes:

  • The name of Halley’s Comet Halley from which he predicted the return.
  • Halley crater on Mars .
  • Halley crater on the moon.
  • Halley Research Station , Antarctica.

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