Universe Guide

Edmund Halley, Sir

Sir Edmund Halley was born in 1656 to a wealthy merchant and as such, he had a relatively easy up bringing compared to other people of the time. His interest in space emerged at a very early age which he studied at Oxford University. He did not complete the degree but went to the Southern Hemisphere in particular to St. Helena, an island off the west cost of Africa near Ascension Island, to map the skys.

On his return to the mainland, he met up with Sir Isaac Newton and persuaded the latter to publish his paper entitled "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" ( Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosphy ) in 1687. The paper describes the newly formed "Law of Gravitation" which explains gravitational forces of an object, it`s power and how it is related to distance which decreases the further you get from it`s origin.

Halley discovered that the comet that appeared in 1682 also appeared in 1607 and 1531. He predicted that the comet would make an appearance again in 1758, nearly 76 years later. He was not able to see that his prediction was right.

In 1720, he suceeded Sir John Flamsteed to become the new Astronomer Royal. After the comet, he began a series of investigations into eclipses which he finished before he died.

Away from science, he married when he returned from the Southern Hemisphere. He designed the first two diving bells, one made of wood then the later in lead.

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