c.1552 / Gouache and watercolor / approx. 9 1/2”x13 1/2” / Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs
In 1705 English astronomer Edmond Halley published the first catalog of the orbits of 24 comets. His calculations showed that comets observed in 1531, 1607, and 1682 had very similar orbits. Halley suggested that they were really one comet that returned approximately every 76 years, and he predicted that comet’s return in 1758. Halley did not live to see his prediction come true (he died in 1742), but the comet was sighted late in 1758, passed perihelion —(*)closest distance to the Sun — March 13, 1759, and was named in Halley’s honour. Its periodic returns demonstrated that it was in orbit around the Sun and, thus, that at least some comets were members of the solar system.