10 Eponymous Discoveries (and the People Who Made Them)


8
Halley's Comet
Edmund Halley never got to see the comet named after him.
Edmund Halley never got to see the comet named after him.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

There's a long-standing deal: Discover a comet, and it'll be named after you. Halley's comet is an example of this, named for 17th-century English astronomer Edmund Halley, who discovered its periodic orbit while studying historical comet observations occurring between the 14th and 17th centuries.

Halley noticed that three comets -- one observed in 1531, a second observed in 1607 and a third observed in 1682 -- had strikingly similar descriptions. Based on those descriptions, Halley hypothesized it was the same comet, the first with a periodic orbit to be discovered -- and that it would make its next appearance in 1758. Halley was correct, but died before he could see his comet return.