Thursday, November 8, 2012
November 8 is the birthdate of Edmond Halley, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist and physicist. Son of a wealthy soap-maker, he published papers on the Solar System and sunspots as an undergraduate at Oxford and financed the publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica. In 1705, he published a work showing that comet sightings in 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 were the same comet, which he predicted would return in 1758. He did not live to see the return of what became known as Halley's Comet, which is visible to the naked eye every 75–76 years. Known sightings have occurred since at least 240 BCE. It last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061. Pictured: The comet’s appearance in 1066, shown in the Bayeux Tapestry (1077).