Sunday, July 10, 2016

William Herschel (1738-1822)

Among the astronomical luminaries of the 18th century none shone as brightly as William Herschel. William Herschel was born on 15 November 1738, the fourth of ten children born to Isaac and Anna Herschel in Hanover, Germany.

In 1750s Isaac and his son William and Jacob were engaged as musicians in the Hanoverian Guards. In 1756 he toured England for several months with his father and the Guard. The country and cultures left a lasting impression on the young composer, and in the autumn of 1757 William left Germany for England where he lived for the rest of his life.
William Herschel
An early interest in the stars had blossomed by 1773, when Herschel began acquiring books on mathematics to help him with harmony to improve his music. His interests quickly spread from mathematics to astronomy.

About this time he began to rent small telescopes to observe the heavens and also started his first rudimentary attempts at constructing telescopes.

On a spring night in 1781 William Herschel was surveying the night sky with his 7-ft telescope with a 6-in mirror. He spotted an object that appeared to have an odd shape, slightly different from the shape of the star. The name of the planet later became Uranus after a suggestion by German astronomer, Johann Bode.

William Herschel directed his tremendous energy towards making many observations of a much higher quality than anyone had one before. He made catalogues of nebulas and double stars and discovered moons around Uranus and Saturn.
William Herschel (1738-1822)

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