Astronomy

Edmond Halley Never Saw His Halley's Comet Prediction Come True

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Edmond Halley's contemporaries would have recognized him not for his work in space, but his work at sea. Halley commanded three ships on the Atlantic Ocean to measure magnetic variations, and even sent fish from his voyages back to the Royal Society. Today, Halley is known as the namesake of Halley's comet, which the astronomer predicted would return to view every 76 years. But his prediction wasn't proven true until 16 years after his 1742 death. The year after the comet was observed, it was named in Halley's honor. Isaac Newton was the one who theorized that comets could travel in orbit, but at the time, he couldn't explain it. Halley, a friend of Newton's, showed how Newton's theories could work.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Sir Isaac Newton's seminal work was almost not published because the Royal Society didn't have the money. 01:12

  2. Edmond Halley was a sea captain, commanding three voyages in the Atlantic. 02:12

  3. The comet Edmond Halley predicted would return (Halley's comet) didn't return in Halley's lifetime. 04:41

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