A rare manuscript about eclipses just sold for $255,000 at auction. Its author was the man who discovered the most famous comet. – DNyuz

A  rare manuscript about eclipses just sold for $255,000 at auction. Its author was the man who discovered the most famous comet.

Edmond Halley is famous for predicting the period of Halley’s comet in the early 1700s, but comets weren’t his only interest.

An astronomer, mathematician, and physicist, Halley was an inventive thinker with a knack for predicting cosmic phenomena.

For example, in a pair of his manuscripts that just sold for nearly $255,000 at auction, he described a method for determining when future lunar eclipses would occur.

This is only the second time an autographed scientific manuscript from Halley has been auctioned in the last 50 years, according to Christie’s, the auction house that sold the manuscripts. It was also one of the most popular items among many others.

Only two other items sold for more: a watercolor from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s used to illustrate the book “The Little Prince” that went for $382,000, and a letter signed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which sold for nearly $287,000.

The sale also included papers by other scientists, writers, and musicians including Thomas Edison and Charles Darwin Albert Einstein . A bidder paid over $119,000 for one of Einstein’s letters.

Emond Halley predicts a comet’s return

In 1705, Edmond Halley published the book “A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets.” He noted that people saw comets in 1531, 1607, and 1682.

They were all the same comet, he believed, and it would appear again. “Hence I dare venture to foretell that it will return again in the year 1758,” he wrote in his book.

Halley was right, and the comet that reappears every 76 years was named for him.

The two manuscripts that Christie’s sold are from around 1692 and appear to be drafts on lunar and solar eclipses that were presented at London’s Royal Society, according to the auction house.

The Royal Society was a group of scholars that included Sir Isaac Newton and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, one of the founders of microbiology.

In the lunar eclipse paper, Halley described an eclipse on October 19, 1678 and speculated that people may have seen it in “New Found Land,” “Terra de Labrador,” and other unfamiliar parts of the world.

The second paper refers to a solar eclipse on March 29, 1652, “commonly called black Monday, the Memory whereof is still fresh among some,” Halley wrote.

No wonder, as astrologers had predicted doom, gloom, and the fall of the monarchy as a result of the eclipse. Years later, an astronomer would predict worse when Halley’s Comet returned in 1910.

People feared there would be worldwide floods, volcanic eruptions, or poisonous gas from the comet’s tail, according to historian Richard Goodrich. The newspapers created a frenzy with front-page stories, “and then, essentially, nothing happens,” Goodrich told the BBC.

The post A rare manuscript about eclipses just sold for $255,000 at auction. Its author was the man who discovered the most famous comet. appeared first on Business Insider.

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