Comet Halley Returns


(Clairaut, 1762, p.45)

Clairaut's prediction of the comet's return came none too soon. Some people had begun to wonder if the comet really would appear. A few already rejoiced at what they anticipated would be a failure of Newtonian theory. Others tried to gain easy fame by making facile predictions. One person thought that a resisting medium was causing the comet's period to decrease with each return and predicted the reappearance for 1756. [...] In the midst of all this confusion, a rather bright comet appeared in 1757, necessitating some firm statements by astronomers like Bradley and Delisle to try to convince the public that they were not seeing the one predicted by Halley.

(Broughton, 1985)

Broughton, P. (1985) ‘The first predicted return of comet Halley’, Journal for the History of Astronomy. [link]

Clairaut, A. C. (1762) Recherches sur la comete des annees 1531,1607, 1682 et 1759 pour servir de supplement a la theorie, par laquelle on avait annonce en 1758 le tems du retour de cette comete. [link]