William Herschel

William Herschel was a German-British astronomer who is well known for his discovery of the planet Uranus and its two moons. He also formulated a theory of stellar evolution. He is widely credited as the founder of sidereal astronomy for observing the heavenly bodies.

He was born on November 15, 1738 in Hanover, Germany. His parents were Isaac and Anna Herschel. William was also a composer and an oboist in the military band. He is also known for the 24 symphonies that he composed.


Quick Facts: –

  • William Herschel built more than 400 telescopes during his career. The largest was a reflecting telescope with a 49.5 inch diameter primary mirror.
  • He would spend up to 16 hours in a day grinding and polishing the metal primary mirrors.
  • He is also credited with discovery of infrared radiation, binary stars, and publishing important catalogues of stars and nebulae.
  • He became the organist of the Octagon Chapel in 1766 and was appointed Director of Public Concerts.
  • In 1781, he received the prestigious Copley Medal because of his discovery of the planet Uranus and its two moons.
  • William Herschel used a microscope to state coral was not a plant.
  • While cataloguing double stars, he realized that many double stars were not distant from each but in fact close and actually orbited around each other.
  • In the late 18th century Herschel began investigating non-stellar objects, calling them nebulae.
  • He also discovered two moon of the planet Saturn which are Mimas and Enceladus.
  • He was knighted in 1816 and became Sir William Herschel.
  • Herschel died on August 25, 1822. He was 83 years old at that time.