Comet Halley over the river Thames near London, England in 1759. Painting by Samuel Scott.
In 1705, Edmond Halley found that the comet he had observed in 1682 was on an almost identical orbit with the two comets of 1607 and 1531, and concluded that these had been three aparitions of one and the same comet, which orbits the sun on a highly elliptical orbit with a period of about 76 years. Therefore, he predicted its return in late 1758 or early 1759.
In 1758 and 1759, astronomers, and in particular the young Charles Messier, took considerable effort to find the comet's predicted return. The comet was eventually found by the German amateur astronomer Johann Georg Palitzsch on the night of December 26-27, 1758.
The comet was eagerly traced by a number of astronomers up to June 1759.
.. more to come soon
Last Modification: January 13, 2004