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Edmond Halley : Founder of the Halley’s Comet 

Edmond Halley (1656-1742)

Edmond Halley was a famous English mathematician. He was not just a mathematician and Astronomer, Geophysicist, physicist, and meteorologist too. He set up an observatory in St. Helena island. Edmond was the first man to record the transit of Mercury across the Sun.

He was a fellow of the Royal Society and discoverer of the proper motion of the fixed stars. Edmond computed the periodicity of Halley’s Comet (named after him) by Newton’s Law of Motion. 

Time and Place of Birth 

Edmond Halley was born on 8 November 1656 in England’s Middlesex region’s Haggerstone, Shoreditch (near London).  

Early Life 

Edmond was born in a wealthy family; his father Edmond Halley Sr. was a London-based soap maker.  Edmond’s mother’s name was Annie Robinson. When he was just ten years old his father lost a big fraction of his property in the Great Fire of London. But still, Edmond was taught by a private tutor at home before going to school.

He was selected as the captain of the school in 1671 while studying at St Paul’s School. Edmond went to college in 1673. At the age of 17, he had a fine collection of astronomical instruments, and by the time he already was a fine astronomer. 


In 1680 Edmond began the tour of Europe during his journey he observed a comet near Calais. In 1682 he married Mary Tooke and had three children with her.

Halley helped Newton in Publishing his book Principia. After the death of John Wallis, he was appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford in 1704. In 1720 Edmond was chosen the Royal Astronomer. 


Edmond Halley died on 14 January 1742 at Greenwich (near London), Kent, England. 

Education and Career

Edmond’s first school was St Paul’s School then in 1673, he went to Queen’s College, Oxford. In 1676 he gave up studies and went to St Helena Island in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1678 he returned to England and published his catalog of southern stars.

In the same year, he became a graduate without giving any examination on the order of King Charles II. 1678 was a year of Halley; he was selected as a Fellow of Royal Society and became one of youngest Fellows. 

Interesting facts about Edmond Halley 

  • Edmond replaced his former mentor Flamsteed as Royal Astronomer who later turned into his enemy. 
  • He was a graduate but he never completed his studies and never gave exams for graduation.
  • Edmond was the first astronomer who predicted the return of a comet.


  • Edmond cataloged 341 stars of the southern hemisphere and found a cluster of stars in Centaurus. 
  • He recorded the transit of Mercury and Venus and realized that Venus’ transit can be used to measure the solar system’s size. 
  • Edmond determined the latitude and longitudes in the southern Atlantic by compass measurements. 
  • He found the proper motion of fixed stars. 
  • Edmond predicted the return of Halley’s comet accurately in 1758. 
  • Halley studied the variations between true north and a magnetic north. 

An English Clergyman who became a great mathematician.

Books written by Edmond Halley 

  • Astronomical tables 
  • A synopsis of the astronomy of comets
  • A declaration of the earthly flatform 

Things named in the honor of Edmond Halley 

  • A Lunar crater
  • A Martian crater 
  • The Famous comet (Halley’s comet)
  • A research center in Antarctica 
  • A street in the Blackburn, Victoria of Australia 
  • A road in the Oxford science park, Oxford 
  • A mountain in St Helena (Halley’s mount)
  • A school in London (the Halley Academy)

Want to Know about a Great Mathematician who was born in India But was not an Indian.

Quotes by Edmond Halley 

The sight…is by far the noblest astronomy affords. 

Nearer the Gods, no mortal may approach.  Halley 

In the year 1456…a comet was seen passing retrograde between the earth and the sun…hence I dare venture to foretell that it will return again in the year 1758. 

Another Clergyman who served both religion and maths.

  • In 2014 a documentary was made related to Edmond Halley named Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey 
  • In 2000 a TV series was made on Halley named Longitude.


What is Halley famous for?

Edmond Halley is known for predicting the orbit of a comet that is named after him. 

How old was Edmond when he died?


Where did Halley die?

Greenwich, England 

Did Edmond Halley have children?

Yes, he had three children. 

See Also 

Edmond Halley was an English mathematician but he is best known as an astronomer. He always has been an idol figure for his fellow and after-generation mathematicians like Newton, Ada Lovelace, and John Wallis, etc. 

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