Biographies

Halley and the orbits of comets

Halley and the orbits of comets

Edmund Halley (1656-1742), British astronomer, was the first to calculate the orbit of a comet.

Halley was interested in the theories of Isaac Newton and encouraged him to write the Principles, which Halley published in 1687 in dealing with expenses.

He is known mainly for his study on the periodicity of comets, but he also made other important contributions such as the catalog of southern skies (Catalogus stellarum australium, 1678), the methods for measuring the distance to the Sun through the transit of planets , the establishment of the stellar movement and the secular acceleration of the Moon.

Edmund Halley was born on November 8, 1656 in Hargerston, Middlesex. He studied at Oxford and became a member of the Royal Society at the age of 22. His activities also included the publications of Apollonius and other former geometers as well as studies of pure mathematics.

From the island of Santa Helena, he cataloged the positions of 341 stars in the southern hemisphere and observed a transit of Mercury from which he hypothesized that these events could be used to determine the distance to the Sun.

Halley's most important scientific treatise was the Synopsis astronomiae cometicae. In this work, Halley applied Newton's laws to all available data on comets and mathematically proved that they revolve in elliptical orbits around the Sun. His accurate prediction of the return of a comet in 1758 (now known as Halley's comet), endorsed his theory that comets are celestial bodies that are part of the Solar System.

He is considered the father of Geophysics. He studied the magnetism of the Earth and developed a theory about it; He determined the law of the magnetic poles, the relationship between barometric pressure and climate, published essays on optics and navigation, was one of the pioneers in the realization of social statistics and published in 1693 the annual calculations of mortality in Breslau.

In 1710 he compared the position of the stars with those of the Ptolemy catalog and deduced that they had to have their own movement and detected it in three of them. At the Greenwich Observatory he designed the method to determine the length by means of lunar observations. In 1686 he published the first meteorological map of the world. Between 1698 and 1700 he studied magnetic declination at different points in the Atlantic Ocean, collecting the necessary data to publish a magnetic map in 1701.

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Newton and the laws of dynamics (celestial mechanics)Messier: catalogs of nebulae and star clusters