Papers of Edmond Halley, 1670 - 1767
Scope and Contents
- 1670 - 1767
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical / Historical
Halley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1678. He edited the Society's 'Transactions' during 1685-1693, and became its secretary in 1713. After receiving the command of HMS 'Paramore' in 1698, he made observations of the magnetic declination in the Atlantic Ocean during 1698-1700, publishing his findings in a 'General Chart of the Variation of the Compass' (1701), and surveyed the tides and coasts of the British Channel in 1701. In 1703 he succeeded John Wallis as Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford. He published 'Synopsis Astronomia Cometicae' in 1705, which argued (accurately) that the sightings of 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 related to the same comet, and that it would return in 1758. He also played a leading role in the publication of two other important works: Newton's 'Principia' (1687), which he published at his own expense, and Flamsteed's astronomical findings, the 'Historia Coelestis', which appeared in 1712, in the face of fierce opposition from their author.
Halley was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1720 in succession to Flamsteed. Despite his age, he began a major project to observe the moon over the eighteen years of the saronic cycle. He completed the work shortly before he death, which took place at Greenwich on 14 January 1742, and his lunar and planetary tables were published in 1749.
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