#12 Science in History
25 December 1758
Astronomer Johann Georg Palitzsch spots the comet's return
Halley's Comet in 1066 depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry
On Christmas Day 1758, Johann Georg Palitzsch observed a comet, in the constellation of Pisces, which he correctly identified as ‘Halley's Comet’. Edmond Halley had predicted in 1705 the return of the comet to the Earth's vicinity every 75.5 years. This was the first time since its last appearance in 1682 that the comet had been seen again.
The discovery, made at the Dresden observatory in Germany, was met with great excitement and admiration from astronomers around the world. Palitzsch had helped to confirm Halley's prediction that the comet would return around every 76 years.
Halley couldn’t celebrate the confirmation – he had died 16 years before.