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Edmund Halley died 1742

The astronomer, Edmund Halley, died in Greenwich England on 14th January 1742: he was the Astronomer Royal having succeeded Flamstead in 1720 a post which he held until his death.

Some key dates and points:

  • 1704, Halley was appointed Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford University, but continued his work in astronomy.
  • 1705, he published ‘A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets’, in which he described the parabolic orbits of 24 comets that had been observed from 1337 to 1698.
  • He showed that the three historic comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682 were so similar in characteristics that they must have been successive returns of the same object – now known as Halley’s Comet – and accurately predicted its return in 1758.
  • In 1716, he devised a method for observing transits of Venus across the disk of the sun in order to determine accurately the distance of the Earth from the Sun.
  • In 1720, Halley succeeded Flamsteed as astronomer royal at Greenwich, a position which he held until his death on 14 January 1742.
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