Eclipses and the Size of the

Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.

Hesiod, a Greek poet of the eighth century B.C.

The name of Edmond Halley has already appeared several times, in connection with the eponymous comet, his rediscovery and titling of the saros cycle of eclipses, and his suggestion that the salt of the sea could tell the age of the Earth. Now we are going to renew our acquaintance with him.

Having brought up his name, I should note that both parts of it have provoked modern dispute. Halley himself used two spellings for his given name: Edmond and Edmund. Whichever one might use is a matter of choice. Regarding his surname, the arguments have centered upon its pronunciation: "Hal-ee," "Haw-lee," or "Hay-lee"? The average person tends to go with the final version (mainly through familiarity with Bill Haley and the Comets, of "Rock Around the Clock" fame in the 1950s). However, the presence of the double "l" in Edmond Halley's patronymic indicates that one of those initial two pronunciations is actually more likely to be correct. The first is that most favored among astronomers. (I won't confuse the matter further by worrying over whether the second syllable should be "lay" or "lie" rather than "lee.")

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