Edmund Halley was born in a small town of Haggerston in the Middlesex. Not everybody knows that this man wasn’t only a great astronomer, but also a talented mathematician, physicist and meteorologist.
Today, we want to share with our readers 9 interesting facts about Halley. Here are these facts…
Edmund Halley: 9 interesting facts about the man of many talents
1. Edmund Halley’s father was his biggest fan and supporter
Edmund Halley was born in the family of a well-off soap maker in 1656. His father had more than enough money to give Edmund a good education. Mathematics was one of his greatest interests since early childhood. While studying at St. Paul’s School, Edmund got interested in astronomy. His father always encouraged his interests, provided support and contributed to all his projects, an important fact about Edmund Halley.
2. Edmund Halley published his first research articles when he was a student at the Queen’s College
Edmund Halley became a student at the Oxford University when he was 17 years old. During the 3rd year of his study at the university, he published his first research papers on the orbits of certain planets.
Careful observation of Jupiter and Saturn allowed him to draw the following conclusion: the speed of Jupiter is constantly increasing while the speed of Saturn is decreasing. This was his first scientific discovery that made astronomers doubt the stability of the Solar System.
3. Edmund Halley created a catalogue of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere
During the student years, Halley got interested in the project of John Flamsteed, the Royal Astronomer. He created a catalogue of the stars of the Northern Hemisphere. Since Halley was deeply interested in astronomy, he decided to create the catalogue of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, an interesting fact about Edmund Halley.
In order to achieve the goal, he decided to go to the island of Saint Helena. He managed to obtain official permission of the London Royal Society to leave university and go on a scientific expedition to the island. He established an observatory there. He was the first to use telescope in order to determine the stars’ coordinates.
He came back to England in May 1678. One year later, he officially published his catalogue that contained detailed description and map of 341 stars.
His contribution to the development of star maps was valued highly. He was awarded an M.A. degree at Oxford and became a member of the Royal Society at the age of 22.
4. Edmund Halley offered a new method of determining the distance between Earth and the Sun
Halley came up with a more reliable method of determining the distance between Earth and the Sun. The method implied observation of Venus transits across the disk of the Sun.
5. Edmund Halley predicted the return of the comet that was named after him
Shortly after his return to England, Halley started to study gravitation, the force that managed planetary motion. Halley improved the laws of planetary motion devised by Newton. Based on these laws and the results of observations, he discovered a comet that regularly returned to the same orbit, an important fact about Edmund Halley. This was the first comet to be considered periodic. Later, it was named after Halley.
The same laws served as the basis for the prediction of the comet’s return in 1758. Even though the calculations were accurate, the prediction came true only in the beginning of 1759. The comet was late because of the Saturn and Jupiter’s gravitation forces.
6. Edmund Halley was the first to carry out researches in geophysics.
Having carried out several research, Halley published an article on the nature of monsoons and trade winds. He tried to figure out the reasons for their occurrence.
Besides, he was deeply interested in the phenomenon of the Earth’s magnetic field, created a model of the Earth’s magnetic field and offered the first map of magnetic variations.
7. Edmund Halley significantly contributed to the development of demography as a science
The contribution of Halley to demography is invaluable. In fact, the data and system offered by him are now seen as one of the most important events in the history of demography development.
The Breslau statistical data provided by C. Neumann served as the basis for the future analysis of age-at-death carried out by Halley. Once the analysis was finished in 1693, he published an article on life annuities (insurance product). He also created a life-table for Breslau.
His work and research in this area allowed to accurately calculate the price of life insurance based on the age of purchasers, an interesting fact about Edmund Halley.
8. Edmund Halley made several contributions to mathematics
Edmund Halley wrote several academic articles on mathematics. He offered a set of new rules to logarithm calculation, and he created original methods of working with equations and goniometric functions. He translated and published the books of Apollonius of Perga in which the author sought to find the answers to many questions in mathematics. Halley himself was the author of books on the theory of chances and statistical theory.
9. Edmund Halley came up with the hypothesis of moving stars
Edmund Halley took the data collected and recorded by Ptolemy. Having compared the positions of the stars, he proposed the idea of moving stars. The hypothesis was proven to be true only in the 70-es when astronomers Tobias Mayer and Neville Maskelyne measured the distance between a number of stars.
During his lifetime, Edmund Halley managed to achieve many goals in various sciences including astronomy, demography and mathematics. The discoveries he made and the researches he carried out obviously had a positive influence on the future development in these fields.
We hope that the facts presented helped you to learn more about this great man.
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