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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





2 articles for "Herschel"

Herschel [Astro*Index]

British name for Uranus, discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1781.

See also:
♦ Herschel, Sir William
Herschel [DeVore]

The British name for the planet discovered by Sir Wm. Herschel; otherwise, Uranus, or Georgium Sidus.

See also:
♦ Herschel, Sir William
Herschel Catalogue [Astro*Index]

Obsolete catalog of stellar bodies, superseded by the New General Catalog (NGC).

See also:
♦ Stars
Herschel, Sir William [Astro*Index]

(1738-1822) German-English astronomer.

Born at Hannover, Germany; died at Slough, Buckinghamshire, England. In 1766, he was well-known as an organist, and taught 35 pupils per week. Self-taught in Latin, Italian, and mathematics, his interests turned to optics. Unable to afford good telescopes, he ground his own lenses, and made his own instruments. Joined by his sister, Caroline, in 1772, they produced the finest telescopes then available. By 1774, he had built the best reflecting telescope, and begun his systematic examination of the skys. In a flood of papers, he described his observations, which covered such topics as: mountains on the Moon, variable stars, and possible effects upon agriculture on the Earth caused by changes in sunspot activity. Then, in 1781, he discovered a new planet. He attempted to name it Georgium Sidus (after King George III of England); Lalande called it Herschel; but, Bode suggested the name Uranus (the father of Saturn in Greek mythology), and this name has been accepted. He was elected to the Royal Society, and awarded the Copley prize. Working with his massive collection of observations, he noted that certain regularities in the proper motions of many stars could be explained if the Sun (and, thus, the entire Solar System) were moving toward a single point (called the Solar Apex), which he located in the constellation Hercules. By counting stars in various directions which comprise the Milky Way, he was able to describe its general structure. He catalogued some 2500 cloudy objects, noting that they might be galaxies, like our Milky Way. And, he observed the dark areas of the Milky Way, believing them to be gaps; they are, in fact, clouds of dust. In 1787, he discovered two satellites of Uranus: Titania and Oberon. On the first night of observation with his new 40-foot telescope, with its 48-inch reflector, he discovered two new satellites of Saturn: Enceladus and Mimas. In 1800, using a thermometer to see if differences existed in various parts of the spectrum of the Sun, he found that the temperature change was greatest beyond the visible section of the spectrum, on the red end; this effect is known as Infrared Radiation. In 1816, he was knighted. He had become the most important and successful astronomer of his time. His life spanned 84 years, which is one sidereal period of revolution (about the Sun) of the planet he discovered, Uranus.

See also:
♦ Lalande, Joseph Jerome Le Francois De ♦ Bode, Johann Elert ♦ Solar Apex ♦ Solar


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine