William Herschel

Pre 1900


William Herschel was a German-born British musician. Herschel was born on November 15, 1738 A.D. and died on August 25, 1822 A.D. He became an astronomer later in life and renowned for discovering Uranus. In becoming an astronomer, Herschel built himself his own telescope. He also built one of the first giant reflector telescopes that was 12 metres long.


  • In 1781, William used his home built telescope to aid him in being the first person to discover a planet, Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun. Also known as one of two of the ice giants. Though originally he believed it to be only a comet or star. This discovery brought Herschel many honours. He was employed by George III to become a fulltime astronomer.
  • Herschel continued on to study Saturn and Mars and discover two of Uranus' moons Oberon and Titania, in 1787, then find two of Saturn's moons, Enceladus and Mimas, a month later, in 1789.
  • William Herschel also discovered 'island universes' that we now call galaxies, and distant double stars.


  • Between 1786 and 1802, William Herschel helped us advance our knowledge and understanding of nebulae -the hazy clouds that surround dying stars- by publishing three catalogues that contained information and data on 2,500 nebular objects.
  • Herschel also founded stellar astronomy, which is the study of the regions beyond our own solar system. His proposed view and shape of the universe is similar to our's today.
Jane Rhodes