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William Herschel was a German-British astronomer who started his life as a musician.
You may find it surprising that the man who was born and brought up in a family of musicians, and who even started his career as a part of a military band, later discovered useful facts in astronomy! Yes, William Hershel discovered the planet Uranus!
William Herschel not only was the first president of the Astronomical Society of London but was also awarded the Copley medal for having discovered a new planet. His career in astronomy only began with this discovery, as he later went on to find Uranus and Saturn's moons and binary stars. This member of the Royal Society was named the King's Astronomer and also built the largest telescope at the time.
William Herschel died in the year 1822 but left a long legacy behind. The Herschel Museum is named after him, so is a crater on the moon. There is also a girls' school in Cape Town named after this astronomer. In addition to this, an impact basin on Mars and a large crater on one of Saturn's moons are named after Herschel. The list does not end there. In fact, he also inspired his sister and son to become astronomers in their own right. Keep reading to learn more William Herschel facts!
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not also check out William Faulkner facts and Marie Curie facts here on Kidadl!
Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, or Sir Frederick William Herschel, was born in Hanover in Germany.
Herschel was born on November 15, 1738, to a musician named Isaac Herschel. Isaac was an oboist at the Hanover Military Band and had 10 children with his wife, Anna Ilse Moritzen. Four of Isaac's children died very early but most of the remaining children initially joined the family business of being musicians. Frederick William Herschel, too, worked as a musician in the Hanoverian band briefly before France captured the land. Scared that his son would be forced to join the military, Isaac sent Herschel to England. In England, William Herschel spent three years trying to perfect his art and gain recognition in the new society in which he was forced to live. His three-year-long struggle ended when he started working as a teacher of music and also as a bandleader. He was very proficient in playing the oboe, organ, and violin. He continued working with music and composed no less than 24 symphonies. He is also known to have composed a few church songs, which grew to become quite famous. Herschel's life only started to take a turn when he started working as the organist at the Octagon Chapel in Bath. During this time, his love for music led him to an undeniable and inevitable interest in astronomy. While being the Director of Public Concerts in Bath, Herschel also paid attention to his knack for astronomy and eventually built his own telescope. By this time, Herschel had started living near New King Street with his sister, Caroline. Caroline Herschel had also come to England and hence, living with her brother was the best option for her. She later became Herschel's full-time assistant and an astronomer in her own capacity.
It was in the year 1773 that William Herschel built his first telescope and started observing stars and other celestial bodies. Although this was a notable event in his life, his rise to fame started when he discovered the seventh planet of the solar system.
As you can tell, the most interesting as well as inspiring fact about William Herschel's life is that he was a music teacher and an orchestra leader during his early life. It was the same man that later went on to become one of the most famous names in the field of astronomy and was even honored with a knighthood, and hence the name - Sir Frederick William Herschel.
At a decisive turning point in his life, Herschel discovered the seventh planet in our solar system.
During one of his observations on March 13, 1781, Herschel saw something in the night sky which he initially thought to be a comet. Herschel began pondering over it and it was after he informed the Royal Astronomer Nevile Maskelyne of the observation that it was confirmed that his sighting was not a comet but a planet. The planet Uranus had a couple of names before it came to have the name that we now identify it with. Herschel first named the planet Georgium Sidus or 'George's Star' after the British King but when the French started expressing their discontent with such a name, the name of the planet was changed to Herschel. It was only later that everyone mutually agreed to call the planet Uranus.
While the name that Herschel initially wanted to give to the planet did not stick, it did earn him favors from the king. He was appointed as the Court Astronomer or the 'King's Astronomer' and was given an annual stipend of 200 pounds, which was a significant amount in those days. It was following this that Herschel moved to a home near Windsor Castle.
After Herschel observed Uranus, he became more serious about his career in astronomy and also built a reflecting telescope. This model, a first of its kind, used a special mechanism of telescope lens, which allowed William Herschel to be able to observe celestial bodies in much larger detail. He built the largest telescope of the time, which held its title for a long time. This telescope had a mirror diameter of 48 in (121.9 cm)!
Herschel discovered Saturn's two moons, Enceladus and Mimas in the year 1789. Following his discovery of a new planet, Herschel also became a member of the Royal Society and was given the Copley medal.
He spent a lot of time observing double stars, as his sister, Caroline, took notes. Through his observations, he concluded that most double stars were actually true binary stars. His theory of how binary stars held close together through a mutual attraction was in line with Newton's theory that gravitation functioned even among celestial bodies. Herschel was also particularly interested in Saturn's rings and the Great Orion Nebula. His home at Windsor Road eventually came to be known as the Observatory House, which is also where his son, John, was born.
William Herschel also discovered infrared radiation as an accident, and found out about Uranus' moons!
Before William Herschel rose to fame and became a part of the Royal Society or discovered a planet of the solar system, he was a simple child born in Hanover, Germany.
His father was a musician and raised children that eventually turned to music at some point in their lives. For Herschel, the musical career started early and ended in order to make way for his career as an astronomer. Herschel initially started playing along with his father in the Hanover Military Band but was sent away to England when the French started attacking.
William Herschel was one of the 10 children that Isaac Herschel had and spent the first few years of his life finding a path in music. Although, his natural calling lay in astronomy, which he later proved.
We know that Herschel discovered Uranus and Saturn's two moons, but we sometimes overlook is that William Herschel also had a very established career in music.
He was an able composer and composed 24 symphonies. He also composed church music, as well as many concertos.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 101 William Herschel facts, then why not take a look at Aristotle facts, or why do scientists use models
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