Sir William Herschel IMAGE - Herschel is one of the names that everybody knows. The father, Sir William Herschel, discovered a new planet—the planet Uranus—in 1781, and from that time until his death, in 1822, he was the most famous astronomer of the world. His son, Sir John, was a famous astronomer too. Their two lives covered more than a century, and their active work extended over ninety years.
The father of Sir William was the master of the band in the Royal regiment of guards in Hanover, and the son, William, was brought up to be a musician. When he was fourteen years old he was taken into the band to play the oboe. England, you know, was then and is now governed by Hanoverian sovereigns (George I was the first one), and the regiment of guards was sent into England in 1755 when Herschel was seventeen years old. We know very little about his eirly life except that he was interested in study, and spent a part of his very scanty pay to buy a copy of a famous book—Locke on the Human Understanding—which you will read when you are in college, no doubt. This is a little thing to know, but it shows that Herschel was studious from the very beginning. In 1756 he left the band of the guards and went to England to make his living by music. Recollect that he was absolutely without friends.
In a few years he became celebrated as a musician. In 1766 he was organist at a church in Bath and the leader of concerts where great works were given— Handel's Messiah, for example. In ten years he had made a place for himself and a good income. He was busy for fourteen hours out of the twenty-four, successful, respected; and those who met him every day probably thought that here was a man settled for life. But it was not so.
Every moment that he could spare was given to study. What other men get in college and at leisure he made up at the end of a long day's work. Mathematics, optics, astronomy, he studied in the best books he could find. He learned to read Latin, Italian, French, and so forth. German was his mother-tongue, and of course he knew English.
This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 in this case 1881, are now in the public domain.
IMAGE CREDIT: Sir William Herschel, his life and works Author: Edward Singleton Holden. Publisher: Allen, 1881. Original from: Oxford University. Digitized: Jul 4, 2006.
TEXT CREDIT: Stories of the great astronomers: conversations with a child. Appleton's home reading books: Natural history. Author: Edward Singleton Holden. Publisher: D. Appleton and company, 1901. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Apr 24, 2008. Length: 265 pages. Subjects: Astronomers, Astronomy. +sookie tex