Google has launched a doodle to celebrate the 335th birthday of legendary British astronomer Edmond Halley. The second ever Astronomer Royal in Britain, Halley is best remembered today for the comet named after him, the orbit of which he was the first to fully calculate. However, in a surprise move, Google has got the wrong birthday for Edmond Halley! Today would be his 355th, not 335th anniversary.
Born in 1656, Edmond Halley undertook the first ever purely scientific voyage by an English naval vessel when, in 1698, he commanded the Paramour to South Atlantic, with the aim of investigating compass anomalies. The expedition was not a great success, but upon his return Halley set to work attempting to measure the true distance of the Earth to the Sun by usin Venus as a reference point.
Halley also attempted to use scientific measurements to date Stonehenge. Although his calculations turned out to be off by many thousands of years, he still pioneered the idea of science being used in such ways. Today, not only is Halley’s Comet named after him, but there is also a crater with his name on Mars.