2015-05-03. Halley's Eclipse: a coup for Newtonian prediction and the selling of science.

posted May 5, 2015, 9:04 PM by Alan Gould
By Rebekah Higgit, The Guardian. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 3. Excerpt: 300 years ago, on the 3rd of May 1715, a rare solar eclipse occurred over England. It was an opportunity too good to miss for those promoting new astronomical theories – and their own careers. In 1715, 300 years ago today, a total solar eclipse was visible across a broad band of England. It was the first to be predicted on the basis of the Newtonian theory of universal gravitation, its path mapped clearly and advertised widely in advance. Visible in locations such as London and Cambridge, both astronomical experts and the public were able to see the phenomena and be impressed by the predictive power of the new astronomy. Wikipedia will tell you that this is known as Halley’s Eclipse, after Edmond Halley, who produced accurate predictions of its timing and an easily-read map of the eclipse’s path. Halley did not live to see the confirmation of his predictions of a returning comet – a 1759 triumph for the Newtonian system – but he was able to enjoy his 1715 calculations, which were within 4 minutes, and to improve on them with a corrected map (above). He observed the eclipse from the Royal Society’s building in Crane Court on a morning with a sky of “perfect serene azure blew”.... http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2015/may/03/halleys-eclipse-newtonian-selling-science-history