Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel lived in Hannover, Germany and since his father was a musician he became a musician. Years later, Wilhelm moved to England to become a condutor and an organist in the town of Bath. Since living in England his name became William. William moved to Bath in 1772 with his sis
Courtesy of
ter Caroline moving in shortly after. On May 10, 1773, William Herschel was only 35 when he started to read the book, Astronomy by James Ferguson. That is when he found out he had an interest in astronomy. He started reading several books about astronomy. Two of them were Opticks and Harmonics, both of them were written by Robert Smith. He became a very skilled maker of some of the most powerful telescopes of his time, but only after reading about astronomy. A little after 1774, William had acquired the necessary skills to make specula mirrors better than they have ever been before. Specula mirrors are used in telescopes as a reflecting device. William Herschel had used homemade telescopes before he learned how to make way better specula mirrors. William Herschel was said to have made the first speculum mirrors and when his sister, Caroline, wrote a memoir about herself, she stated that it took her brother William sixteen hours to come up with the specula mirror. The association between William and the specula mirror and the extremely early date of the discovery define the international significance of the specula mirror.


William Herschel was not always a famous astronomer, he was originally a musician after his father. 50 years later, William became the greatest telescope maker of the time in which he was doing it. Most people would say that he is the greatest maker of telescopes in all the world, and quite possibly thats true. The biggest achievement of his life, which he is now often known for, is his discovery of the planet Uranus in the year 1781. William was constantly buying telescopes from a store in London, until he realized he couldn't keep buying things from there. He then decided to plan then construct his own type of telescope. When he finished his telescope, in September 1774, he began using his own creation. It had a 6 foot focal point that happened to be very convenient for him at the time. Before he had finished his telescope, he was observing the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, and the marks that were found on the moon. He then began to observe a well-known star called Mira Ceti. Mira Ceti's brightness varies periodically, and from that he decided to determine the annual movement of the stars around the earth. After he observed the stars he realized that one of them has moved. What he didn't know was that he had just discovered the planet Uranus and that discovery was going to change his life. In 1816 William Herschel was knighted by a king for his value to the field of science. He also received honors from numerous countries and academies all over the world.
William Herschel (Courtesy of Cool Cosmos)

Later Years

What William Herschel learned and shared about the stars was being used to learn about the dark spots on the sun. William Herschel knew that the sun rotated on its own axis and that the dark spots were located on the photosphere. What he wanted to learn was if the dark spots could also be located on other stars and if they also rotate on their own axis as well. He also wanted to learn about if the spots on the sun have anything to do with the inhabitants on the Earth. He went on to learn about these things by using his own telescopes and his own thoughts. He wrote all of his findings in a collection of memoirs, no less than six of them, and sent them to the Royal Society. William Herschel was a man that had so many accomplishments in his life that they were moved on through history. His accomplishments are: his observations of double stars, he demonstrated that the solar system by itself moved through space, discovered Uranus, named the shape of the Milky Way, used the word asteroid, and he built more than 400 telescopes throughout his life time. William Herschel created something that many people were able to use and they still do use his telescopes.