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To scrutinize the whole of Nature: The Royal Society and its fellows 1660-1730

Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley. Astronomical tables with precepts, both in English and Latin, for computing the places of the sun, moon, planets, and comets. London: Printed for William Innys, 1752 [Rare Books Collection FOL. QB11 HAL]Edmond Halley. Astronomical tables with precepts, both in English and Latin, for computing the places of the sun, moon, planets, and comets. London: Printed for William Innys, 1752 [Rare Books Collection FOL. QB11 HAL]The astronomer, Edmond Halley (1656–1742), was appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford in November 1703. While at Oxford Halley began drawing up tables of the positions and movements of the sun, the planets, and the moon.

These were sent to the press in 1717 and were printed by 1719. However, Halley was appointed Astronomer Royal in the following year, on the death of Flamsteed, and deferred publication so that he could compare the lunar tables with observations which he hoped to make at Greenwich.

It was Halley’s intention to observe the moon through a complete saronic cycle of 223 synodic months or around 18 years 11 days (the cycle after which after which a series of eclipses is repeated). Halley was 64 when appointed Astronomer Royal but lived long enough to observe the moon through a whole cycle. Unfortunately, he did not live to see his Tables published. They were edited by the physician and astronomer, John Bevis (1695-1771), and were finally published in 1749, with this version, with text in both English and Latin, appearing three years later.

This volume contains a version of Halley’s Synopsis astronomia cometicae, first published in 1705, in which he argued that the comet observed in 1682, and which now bears his name, was the same as that seen in 1531 and 1607, and correctly predicted that it would return in 1758.

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