Edmond Halley

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Edmond Halley
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{{short description|English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist }}{{EngvarB|date=July 2019}}{{Use dmy dates|date=July 2019}}

|birth_place = Haggerston, Middlesex, England25 January14 January 1741}} (aged 85)|death_place = Greenwich, Kent, EnglandSt Margaret's, Lee>St. Margaret's, Lee, South London|nationality = English|field = Astronomy, geophysics, mathematics, meteorology, physics, cartography|work_institutions = University of OxfordRoyal Observatory, Greenwich|alma_mater = The Queen's College, Oxford|doctoral_advisor =|doctoral_students =|influences =|influenced =|prizes =|spouse = Mary Tooke|children = Edmond Halley (d. 1741) Margaret (d. 1713) Richelle (d. 1748)|footnotes =|signature =}}Edmond (or EdmundJOURNAL, 14,weblink Halley's First Name: Edmond or Edmund, Hughes, David W., Green, Daniel W. E., January 2007, International Comet Quarterly, Harvard University, Might we suggest... simply recogniz[ing] both forms, noting that—in the days when Halley lived—there was no rigid English-language spelling reform#History, 'correct' spelling, and that this particular astronomer seemed to prefer the 'u' over the 'o' in his published works., ) Halley, FRS ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|h|æ|l|i}};BOOK, Jones, Daniel, Daniel Jones (phonetician), Gimson, Alfred C., Alfred C. Gimson, Everyman's English Pronunciation Dictionary, 14, Everyman's Reference Library, 1977, 1917, J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 0-460-03029-9,weblink BOOK, Kenyon, John S., John Samuel Kenyon, Knott, Thomas A., Thomas Albert Knott, A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English, 1953, Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, MA, 0-87779-047-7,weblink {{OldStyleDate|8 November|1656|29 October}} – {{OldStyleDateDY|25 January|1742|14 January 1741}}) was an English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist. He was the second Astronomer Royal in Britain, succeeding John Flamsteed in 1720.WEB,weblink BBC, Edmond Halley (1656–1742), 28 March 2017, From an observatory he constructed on Saint Helena,WEB,weblink Ian Ridpath, Edmond Halley's southern star catalogue, 29 June 2012, Halley recorded a transit of Mercury across the Sun. He realised a similar transit of Venus could be used to determine the size of the Solar System.Jeremiah Horrocks, William Crabtree, and the Lancashire observations of the transit of Venus of 1639, Allan Chapman 2004 Cambridge University Press {{doi|10.1017/S1743921305001225}} He also used his observations to expand contemporary star maps. He aided in observationally proving Isaac Newton's laws of motion, and funded the publication of Newton's influential Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.From his September 1682 observations, he used the laws of motion to compute the periodicity of Halley's Comet in his 1705 Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets.BOOK, Halley & His Comet, P. Lancaster-Brown, Blandford Press, 1985, 0-7137-1447-6, 76,weblink It was named after him upon its predicted return in 1758, which he did not live to see.Beginning in 1698, he made sailing expeditions and made observations on the conditions of terrestrial magnetism. In 1718, he discovered the proper motion of the "fixed" stars.

Early life

Halley was born in Haggerston in Middlesex. His father, Edmond Halley Sr., came from a Derbyshire family and was a wealthy soap-maker in London. As a child, Halley was very interested in mathematics. He studied at St Paul's School where he developed his initial interest in astronomy, and from 1673 at The Queen's College, Oxford. While still an undergraduate, Halley published papers on the Solar System and sunspots.


Publications and inventions

While at the University of Oxford, Halley was introduced to John Flamsteed, the Astronomer Royal. Influenced by Flamsteed's project to compile a catalogue of northern stars, Halley proposed to do the same for the Southern Hemisphere.In 1676, Halley visited the south Atlantic island of Saint Helena and set up an observatory with a large sextant with telescopic sights to catalogue the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. While there he observed a transit of Mercury across the Sun, and realised that a similar transit of Venus could be used to determine the absolute size of the Solar System. He returned to England in May 1678. In the following year he went to Danzig (Gdańsk) on behalf of the Royal Society to help resolve a dispute. Because astronomer Johannes Hevelius did not use a telescope, his observations had been questioned by Robert Hooke. Halley stayed with Hevelius and he observed and verified the quality of Hevelius' observations. In 1679, Halley published the results from his observations on St. Helena as Catalogus Stellarum Australium which included details of 341 southern stars.JOURNAL, Carter, Harold B., The Royal Society and the Voyage of HMS Endeavour 1768–71, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 49, 2, 248, The Royal Society, London, UK, July 1995, 532013, 10.1098/rsnr.1995.0026, BOOK, Kanas, Nick, Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography (Second Edition), 2012, Springer, Chickester, U.K., 978-1-4614-0916-8, 122, These additions to contemporary star maps earned him comparison with Tycho Brahe: e.g. "the southern Tycho" as described by Flamsteed. Halley was awarded his M.A. degree at Oxford and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 22. In September 1682 he carried out a series of observations of what became known as Halley's Comet, though his name became associated with it because of his work on its orbit and predicting its return in 1758 (which he did not live to see).Yeomans DK, Rahe J, Freitag RS. The history of comet Halley. Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 1986 Apr; 80 62–86; page 81.File:Edmond Halley Royal Greenwich Observatory Museum.jpg|thumb|left|upright|Bust of Halley (Royal Observatory, GreenwichRoyal Observatory, GreenwichIn 1686, Halley published the second part of the results from his Helenian expedition, being a paper and chart on trade winds and monsoons. The symbols he used to represent trailing winds still exist in most modern day weather chart representations. In this article he identified solar heating as the cause of atmospheric motions. He also established the relationship between barometric pressure and height above sea level. His charts were an important contribution to the emerging field of information visualisation.Halley E. (1686), "An Historical Account of the Trade Winds, and Monsoons, Observable in the Seas between and Near the Tropicks, with an Attempt to Assign the Phisical {{sic|hide=yes}} Cause of the Said Winds", Philosophical Transactions, 16:153–168 {{doi|10.1098/rstl.1686.0026}}Halley spent most of his time on lunar observations, but was also interested in the problems of gravity. One problem that attracted his attention was the proof of Kepler's laws of planetary motion. In August 1684, he went to Cambridge to discuss this with Isaac Newton, much as John Flamsteed had done four years earlier, only to find that Newton had solved the problem, at the instigation of Flamsteed with regard to the orbit of comet Kirch, without publishing the solution. Halley asked to see the calculations and was told by Newton that he could not find them, but promised to redo them and send them on later, which he eventually did, in a short treatise entitled, On the motion of bodies in an orbit. Halley recognised the importance of the work and returned to Cambridge to arrange its publication with Newton, who instead went on to expand it into his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica published at Halley's expense in 1687.Peter Ackroyd. Newton. Great Britain: Chatto and Windus, 2006. Halley's first calculations with comets were thereby for the orbit of comet Kirch, based on Flamsteed's observations in 1680-1. Although he was to accurately calculate the orbit of the comet of 1682, he was inaccurate in his calculations of the orbit of comet Kirch. They indicated a periodicity of 575 years, thus appearing in the years 531 and 1106, and presumably heralding the death of Julius Caesar in a like fashion in −44 (45 BCE). It is now known to have an orbital period of circa 10,000 years.In 1691, Halley built a diving bell, a device in which the atmosphere was replenished by way of weighted barrels of air sent down from the surface.JOURNAL, Edmonds, Carl, Lowry, C, Pennefather, John, History of diving., South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal, 5, 2,weblink 17 March 2009, In a demonstration, Halley and five companions dived to {{convert|60|ft}} in the River Thames, and remained there for over an hour and a half. Halley's bell was of little use for practical salvage work, as it was very heavy, but he made improvements to it over time, later extending his underwater exposure time to over 4 hours.WEB,weblink London Diving Chamber, History: Edmond Halley, 6 December 2006, Halley suffered one of the earliest recorded cases of middle ear barotrauma.
That same year, at a meeting of the Royal Society, Halley introduced a rudimentary working model of a magnetic compass using a liquid-filled housing to damp the swing and wobble of the magnetised needle.Gubbins, David, Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism, Springer Press (2007), {{ISBN|1-4020-3992-1}}, {{ISBN|978-1-4020-3992-8}}, p. 67
In 1691, Halley sought the post of Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. While a candidate for the position, Halley faced the animosity of the Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, and his religious views were questioned.JOURNAL, Hughes, David W., Edmond Halley, Scientist, Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 95, 5, 193, British Astronomical Association, London, UK, August 1985,weblink 28 March 2017, 1985JBAA...95..193H, "To what extent Halley's failure was due the animosity of John Flamsteed or to his stout defence [sic] of his religious belief that not every iota of scripture was necessarily divinely inspired is still a matter of some argument. All Oxford appointees had to assent to the Articles of Religion and be approved by the Church of England. Halley's religious views could not have been too outlandish because the University was happy to grant him another chair 12 years later."Hughes at 198."Halley held liberal religious views and was very outspoken. He believed in having a reverent but questioning attitude towards the eternal problems and had little sympathy for those who unquestioningly accepted dogma. He was certainly not an atheist."Hughes at 201. His candidacy was opposed by both the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Tillotson, and Bishop Stillingfleet, and the post went instead to David Gregory, who had the support of Isaac Newton.Derek Gjertsen, The Newton Handbook, {{ISBN|0-7102-0279-2}}, pg 250In 1692, Halley put forth the idea of a hollow Earth consisting of a shell about 500 miles (800 km) thick, two inner concentric shells and an innermost core.JOURNAL, Halley, E., An account of the cause of the change of the variation of the magnetic needle; with an hypothesis of the structure of the internal parts of the earth, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1692, 16, 470–478,weblink 179–191, He suggested that atmospheres separated these shells, and that each shell had its own magnetic poles, with each sphere rotating at a different speed. Halley proposed this scheme to explain anomalous compass readings. He envisaged each inner region as having an atmosphere and being luminous (and possibly inhabited), and speculated that escaping gas caused the aurora borealis.WEB, Carroll, Robert Todd, Robert Todd Carroll, 13 February 2006,weblink hollow Earth, Skeptic's Dictionary, 23 July 2006, He suggested, "Auroral rays are due to particles, which are affected by the magnetic field, the rays parallel to Earth’s magnetic field."WEB,weblink 10 Illuminating Facts about the Northern Lights, Oceanwide Expeditions, 24 August 2018, In 1693 Halley published an article on life annuities, which featured an analysis of age-at-death on the basis of the Breslau statistics Caspar Neumann had been able to provide. This article allowed the British government to sell life annuities at an appropriate price based on the age of the purchaser. Halley's work strongly influenced the development of actuarial science. The construction of the life-table for Breslau, which followed more primitive work by John Graunt, is now seen as a major event in the history of demography.The Royal Society censured Halley for suggesting in 1694 that the story of Noah's flood might be an account of a cometary impact.V. Clube and B. Napier, The Cosmic Serpent London: Faber and Faber, 1982. This theory was independently suggested by modern researchers as Tollmann's bolide hypothesis (1992), but is generally rejected by geologists.Deutsch, A., C. Koeberl, J.D. Blum, B.M. French, B.P. Glass, R. Grieve, P. Horn, E.K. Jessberger, G. Kurat, W.U. Reimold, J. Smit, D. Stöffler, and S.R. Taylor, 1994, The impact-flood connection: Does it exist? Terra Nova. v. 6, pp. 644–650.

Exploration years

In 1698, Halley was given command of the {{HMS|Paramour|1694|2}}, a {{convert|52|ft}} pink, so that he could carry out investigations in the South Atlantic into the laws governing the variation of the compass. On 19 August 1698, he took command of the ship and, in November 1698, sailed on what was the first purely scientific voyage by an English naval vessel. Unfortunately problems of insubordination arose over questions of Halley's competence to command a vessel. Halley returned the ship to England to proceed against officers in July 1699. The result was a mild rebuke for his men, and dissatisfaction for Halley, who felt the court had been too lenient.BOOK, Halley, Edmond, The Three Voyages of Edmond Halley in the Paramore, 1698–1701, 129–131, 1982, Hakluyt Society, UK, 0-904180-02-6, Halley thereafter received a temporary commission as a Captain in the Royal Navy, recommissioned the Paramour on 24 August 1699 and sailed again in September 1699 to make extensive observations on the conditions of terrestrial magnetism. This task he accomplished in a second Atlantic voyage which lasted until 6 September 1700, and extended from 52 degrees north to 52 degrees south. The results were published in General Chart of the Variation of the Compass (1701). This was the first such chart to be published and the first on which isogonic, or Halleyan, lines appeared.BOOK, Cook, Alan, Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas, 12 April 1997, Oxford University Press, Oxford USA, 0198500319, 1,weblink 5 January 2015, File:Edmond Halley plaque in Westminster Abbey.jpg|left|thumb|Plaque in South Cloister of Westminster AbbeyWestminster AbbeyThe preface to Awnsham and John Churchill's collection of voyages and travels (1704), supposedly written by John Locke or by Halley, made the link.{{clarify|date=September 2013}}
"Natural and moral history is embellished with the most beneficial increase of so many thousands of plants it had never before received, so many drugs and spices, such unaccountable diversity. Trade is raised to highest pitch, and this not in a niggard and scanty manner as when the Venetians served all Europe ... the empire of Europe is now extended to the utmost bounds of the Earth."''
File:Tombstone of Edmond Halley.jpg|thumb|right|Edmond Halley's tombstone, re-positioned at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich; he is not buried there, but at St Margaret's, LeeSt Margaret's, LeeIn November 1703, Halley was appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at the University of Oxford, his theological enemies, John Tillotson and Bishop Stillingfleet having died, and received an honorary degree of doctor of laws in 1710. In 1705, applying historical astronomy methods, he published (iarchive:jstor-102980|Astronomiae cometicae synopsis), which stated his belief that the comet sightings of 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 were of the same comet, which he predicted would return in 1758. Halley did not live to witness the comet's return, but when it did, the comet became generally known as Halley's Comet.By 1706 Halley had learned Arabic and completed the translation started by Edward BernardM.B. Hall, 'Arabick Learning in the Correspondence of the Royal Society, 1660–1677', The 'Arabick' Interest of the Natural Philosophers in 17th-Century England, p.154 of Books V-VII of Apollonius's Conics from copies found at Leiden and the Bodleian Library at Oxford. He also completed a new translation of the first four books from the original Greek that had been started by the late David Gregory. He published these along with his own reconstruction of Book VIIIMichael N. Fried, 'Edmond Halley's Reconstruction of the Lost Book of Apollonius's Conics: Translation and Commentary', Spring 2011 in the first complete Latin edition in 1710.In 1716, Halley suggested a high-precision measurement of the distance between the Earth and the Sun by timing the transit of Venus. In doing so, he was following the method described by James Gregory in Optica Promota (in which the design of the Gregorian telescope is also described). It is reasonable to assume Halley possessed and had read this book given that the Gregorian design was the principal telescope design used in astronomy in Halley's day.BOOK, Wakefield, Julie, Press, Joseph Henry, Halley s Quest: A Selfless Genius and His Troubled Paramore, 2005, National Academies Press, USA, 0309095948,weblink 5 January 2015, It is not to Halley's credit that he failed to acknowledge Gregory's priority in this matter. In 1718 he discovered the proper motion of the "fixed" stars by comparing his astrometric measurements with those given in Ptolemy's Almagest. Arcturus and Sirius were two noted to have moved significantly, the latter having progressed 30 arc minutes (about the diameter of the moon) southwards in 1800 years.HOLBERG>FIRST=JBPAGES=41–42PUBLISHER=PRAXIS PUBLISHINGISBN=0-387-48941-X, In 1720, together with his friend the antiquarian William Stukeley, Halley participated in the first attempt to scientifically date Stonehenge. Assuming that the monument had been laid out using a magnetic compass, Stukeley and Halley attempted to calculate the perceived deviation introducing corrections from existing magnetic records, and suggested three dates (460 BC, AD 220 and AD 920), the earliest being the one accepted. These dates were wrong by thousands of years, but the idea that scientific methods could be used to date ancient monuments was revolutionary in its day.Johnson, Anthony, Solving Stonehenge, The New Key to an Ancient Enigma(Thames & Hudson 2008) {{ISBN|978-0-500-05155-9}}(File:Halley Edmund grave.jpg|right|thumb|Halley's grave)Halley succeeded John Flamsteed in 1720 as Astronomer Royal, a position Halley held until his death. Halley died in 1742 at the age of 85. He was buried in the graveyard of the old church of St Margaret's, Lee (since rebuilt), at Lee Terrace, Blackheath.WEB, Location of Edmond Halley's tomb,weblink, The Shady Old Lady's guide to London, 5 January 2015, He was interred in the same vault as the Astronomer Royal John Pond; the unmarked grave of the Astronomer Royal Nathaniel Bliss is nearby.Halley's gravesite is in a cemetery at the junction of Lee Terrace and Brandram Road, across from the Victorian Parish Church of St Margaret. The cemetery is a 30-minute walk from the Greenwich Observatory. His original tombstone was transferred by the Admiralty when the original Lee church was demolished and rebuilt – it can be seen today on the southern wall of the Camera Obscura at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. His marked grave can be seen at St Margaret's Church, Lee Terrace.WEB, Photograph of Edmond Halley's Tombstone,weblink, Flamsteed Society, 5 January 2015, BOOK, Redfern, Dave, Doing the Halley Walk, Summer 2004, Horizons, London, Issue 14,weblink 5 January 2015,

Personal life

Halley married Mary Tooke in 1682 and settled in Islington. The couple had three children.WEB, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Edmond Halley,weblink Westminster Abbey, 3 May 2015, 2004,

Named after Edmond Halley

File:Solar eclipse 1715May03 Halley map.png|thumb|upright|Halley's map of the path of the Solar eclipse of 3 May 1715Solar eclipse of 3 May 1715

Pronunciation and spelling

There are three pronunciations of the surname Halley. The most common, both in Great Britain and in the United States, is {{IPAc-en|ˈ|h|æ|l|i}} (rhymes with "valley"). This is the personal pronunciation used by most Halleys living in London today.WEB,weblink Ian Ridpath, Saying Hallo to Halley, 8 November 2011, The alternative {{IPAc-en|ˈ|h|eɪ|l|i}} is often preferred for the man and the comet by those who grew up with rock and roll singer Bill Haley, who called his backing band his "Comets" after the common pronunciation of Halley's Comet in the United States at the time.WEB,weblink Guide Profile: Bill Haley,, 8 November 2011,weblink" title="">weblink 21 January 2012, yes, Colin Ronan, one of Halley's biographers, preferred {{IPAc-en|ˈ|h|ɔː|l|i}}. Contemporary accounts spell his name Hailey, Hayley, Haley, Haly, Halley, Hawley and Hawly, and presumably pronunciations varied similarly.NEWS,weblink Science: Q&A,, 14 May 1985, 8 November 2011, As for his given name, although the spelling "Edmund" is quite common, "Edmond" is what Halley himself used, according to a 1902 article,The Times (London) Notes and Queries No. 254, 8 November 1902 p.36 though a 2007 International Comet Quarterly article disputes this, commenting that in his published works, he used "Edmund" 22 times and "Edmond" only 3 times,JOURNAL, 1,weblink Halley's First Name: Edmond or Edmund, Hughes, David W., Green, Daniel W. E., January 2007, International Comet Quarterly, Harvard University, with several other variations used as well, such as the Latinised "Edmundus". Much of the debate stems from the fact that, in Halley's own time, English spelling conventions were not yet standardised, and so he himself used multiple spellings.

See also



Further reading

  • BOOK, Armitage, Angus, Edmond Halley, 1966, Nelson, London,
  • JOURNAL, Coley, Noel, Halley and Post-Restoration Science, History Today, 1986, 36, September, 10–16,weblink
  • BOOK, Cook, Alan H., Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas, 1998, Clarendon Press, Oxford,
  • BOOK, Ronan, Colin A., Edmond Halley, Genius in Eclipse, 1969, Doubleday and Company, Garden City, New York,
  • JOURNAL, Seyour, Ian, Edmond Halley – explorer, History Today, 1996, June, 46, 39–44,weblink
  • JOURNAL, Sarah Irving, Natural science and the origins of the British empire (London,1704), 92–93, A collection of voyages and travels, 2008, June, 3, 92–93,

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