100 Days Until Totality! 66 Days Left – Sir Edmond Halley’s Maps and the Moon’s “Atmosphere”

Sir Edmond Halley was a British astronomer with many great achievements starting early in his career. At only 22 years of age he journeyed to the southern hemisphere and cataloged 341 stars in the sky with great accuracy. This brought him great fame in the sciences and he was elected to the Royal Society, a prestigious group of English scientists.

Halley was also known for his ability to calculate orbital paths accurately with Newton’s theory of gravity. Halley first used his skills to predict the orbits of comets. Halley’s comet was named in his honor when the comet returned and his calculations were proven correct. Halley also used Newton’s theory to predict an upcoming solar eclipse. For this eclipse he also created the first detailed map of the path of totality on the Earth.

Halley viewed the total solar eclipse on May 03, 1715. Halley noticed a small fuzzy ring around the Moon and thought he was the first person to view the Moon’s atmosphere. Today we know that this was the chromosphere of the Sun and that the Moon does not have an atmosphere.

“A few seconds before the Sun was all hid, there discovered itself round the Moon a luminous ring about a digit, or perhaps a tenth part of the Moon’s diameter, in breadth. It was of a pale whiteness, or rather pearl-color, seeming to me a little tinged with the colors of the iris, and to be concentric with the Moon.”-Edmond Halley

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