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  • 11/15/2003

Sir William Herschel

(15th November 1738-1822)

Sir William Herschel, 1738-1822, originally Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, b. Germany, discovered (1781) the planet Uranus, which led (1782) to his position as private astronomer to the king.
The large reflecting telescopes that he constructed, including one with a 40-ft (12.2-m) focal length, far surpassed in size those of his contemporaries.

He concluded from the motion of double stars that they are held together by gravitation and that they revolve around a common center, thus confirming the universal nature of Isaac NEWTON's theory of gravitation.
He discovered the Saturnian satellites Mimas and Enceladus (1789) and the Uranian satellites Titania and Oberon (1787).
His research on nebulae suggested a possible origin of new worlds from gaseous matter, and his catalogue of nebulae (including some objects that are now known to be galaxies or star clusters) increased those known from about 100 to 2,500.

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