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West End Stars: Halley and Newton
with Rebekah Higgit and Rob Iliffe
6.30pm Thursday 6th September 2018
Westminster Arts Library
35 St Martins Street
Each ticket includes a 'lens' of Hendricks Interplanetary Gin Punch
Calling all stargazers. To celebrate Astronomy Month at Westminster Library (who are, in an extraordinary initiative, the first library in Europe to lend out telescopes), REBEKAH HIGGITT and ROB ILIFFE join us to chart the stellar lives of two of the greatest astronomers of all time, both of whom practiced their craft right here in London.
Astronomers don't get much more London than EDMOND HALLEY. He was born in October 1656 in Haggerston and died in 1742 in Greenwich. Dr REBEKAH HIGGITT helps us observe the London life of a man who counted John Flamstead, Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren and Issac Newton amongst his circle, became a skilled navigator and inventor, improved the diving bell, calculated the orbits of over twenty comets, charted terrestrial magnetism, observed the 1715 eclipse of the sun in London, was appointed Astronomer Royal and was first to predict the return (in 1758) of the comet which bears his name. Phew.

ISAAC NEWTON was without doubt a star amongst men.  Possibly the most brilliant and influential scientist who ever lived. When we think of him we usually think of Cambridge, where he discovered the law of gravity but Newton was also a Londoner. He lived in the capital for thirty years and for some of that time, right here on the site of Westminster Library where he built an observatory on the top floor of his house (which at that time offered him a dark and unobstructed view of the heavens). Professor ROB ILIFFE joins us to tell how Newton became interested in astronomy, how he interacted with contemporary astronomers, and how his work was crucial for astronomy in the eighteenth century.

ROB ILIFFE is Professor of History of Science at Oxford and author of A very Short Introduction to Newton (Oxford, 2007) and Priest of Nature: the Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton (Oxford, 2017),  He is co-director of the online Newton Project, a freely available digital edition of Newton’s personal papers and his scientific, religious and administrative writings. 
REBEKAH HIGGITT is a senior lecturer in history of science at the University of Kent and formerly a curator at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. She is co-author of Finding Longitude (2014) and Maskelyne: Astronomer Royal (2014) and author of Recreating Newton (2007). Her current research project explores the development of communities of scientific knowledge and practice in 17th- and 18th-century London.