In 1705, applying historical astronomy methods, he published Synopsis Astronomia Cometicae, which stated his belief that the comet sightings of 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 were of the same comet, which he predicted would return in 1758. Halley did not live to witness the comet's return, but when it did, the comet became generally known as Halley's Comet.
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About the Author
He was the son of naturalist Robert Ball and Amelia Gresley Hellicar. He was born in Dublin.
Ball worked for Lord Rosse from 1865 to 1867. In 1867 he became Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. There he lectured on mechanics and published an elementary account of the science.
In 1874 Ball was appointed Royal Astronomer of Ireland and Andrews Professor of Astronomy in the University of Dublin at Dunsink Observatory.
In 1908 he published A Treatise on Spherical Astronomy, which is a textbook on astronomy starting from spherical trigonometry and the celestial sphere, considering atmospheric refraction and aberration of light, and introducing basic use of a generalised instrument.