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Biography of Edmond Halley

Portrait of Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley was an eighteenth century Astronomer Royal who had comet named after him.

When and Where was he Born?

8th November 1656, Haggerston, Shoreditch, London, England.

Family Background:

Edmond Halley was the son of a wealthy London businessman.


St. Paul’s School, London. Queens College, Oxford.

Timeline of Edmond Halley:

1682: Halley gets married to Mary Tooke.

1676: He leaves for the British Island of St. Helena to make the first catalogue of the stars in the Southern hemisphere.

1680: He visits Paris observing comets and their orbits which leads him to successfully predict the return of one seen in 1583. This became known as Halley’s comet. He was the first also to observe the transit of Mercury.

1683: He works on magnetic variations and the barometric pressure of the air on earth at various heights above sea level. (Based on the theories of Robert Boyle).

1686: He studies the Trade Winds and also monsoons.

Royal Observatory
Royal Observatory, Greenwich (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1687: Edmond Halley encourages Isaac Newton to write “Principia Mathematica” and organises and pays for the publication himself.

1693: With the Publication of his “Breslau Table of Mortality” he is the first to organise fully the basis of life assurance and annuities.

1701: All Halley ‘s work on magnetism and the sea culminated in the first publication of his magnetic sea chart. He was the first person to use isometric representation in his map making.

1703: He is appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University. He builds an observatory on the roof of his house.

1715: He successfully predicts the path of totality of the solar eclipse. This work leads him on to the motions of other stars.

1720: Edmond Halley is appointed Astronomer Royal.

When and Where did he Die?

14th Jan 1742, Greenwich, London, England. He was described as dying peacefully after a last glass of wine.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1679: “Catalogus Stellarum Australium”.
1705: “Synopsis Astronomiae Cometicae”.


1682 to Mary Tooke.

Site of Grave:

His original gravestone is now set in the wall at the Greenwich Observatory, London.

Halley tombstone
Family Tombstone of the Halley Family moved from St Mary’s in Lee to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
 (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


Greenwich Observatory.


The observatory on the roof of his house still stands at 7 New College Lane which still remains part of New College buildings.