This beautifully structured book presents the essentials of William and Caroline Herschel's pioneering achievements in late 18th-century astromy. Michael Hoskin shows that William Herschel was the first observational cosmologist and one of the first observers to attack the sidereal universe beyond the solar system: * Herschel built instruments far better than any being used at the royal observatory. * Aided by his sister Caroline, he commenced a great systematic survey that led to his discovery of Uranus in 1781.* Unlike observers before him, whose telescopes did t reveal them as astromical objects, Herschel did t igre misty patches of light. Hoskins points out Herschel's achievement in surveying, cataloguing, and describing them as nebulae and even coming to the correct conclusion that their structure evolved over time, with Newton's gravity being the agent of change. * Herschel's surveys established a new astromy - looking at the universe rather than the planets! Michael Hoskin's account includes sketches and diagrams from Herschel's manuscripts in the Royal Astromical Society Archives in which he attempts to delineate the structure of the Milky Way galaxy. While it is well-kwn that Herschel was a revolutionary in telescope design who constructed the world's largest telescopes, Hoskin also gives the full picture of the man as an entrepreneur who built and traded some 400 telescopes. Hoskin also pays close attention to the role of William's sister Caroline Herschel, who is usually portrayed as a helpmate to her brother. But in fact she became a significant astromer in her own right. This book also offers a wealth of information of the wider Herschel family. It is enriched by a complete set of portraits of William and Caroline Herschel with an extensive set of images of their residences and closes with a charming appendix on how visitors to the Herschels recorded their encounters. William and Caroline Herschel - Pioneers in Late 18th-Century Astromy will appeal to amateur astromers and all those interested in popular astromy. This book will rapidly establish itself as the primary introductory work for students, astromers, and scholars working on the history of natural science in the late 18th century.
Michael Hoskin is one of the greatest living scholars in the history of astronomy. He is an Emeritus Fellow of St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge. He was the founder and first director of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, and this is now the largest department of its kind in the world. Michael Hoskin, the Cambridge academic, is the world authority on the Herschel family. In this delightful, erudite and informative book (The family of the astronomers William and Caroline Herschel) ... Hoskin wears his expertise lightly and has produced at one and the same time a most readable and enjoyable overview of the life and scientific accomplishments of this family as well as an extremely well referenced and useful introduction to the state of English astronomy at the turn of the nineteenth century. David W. Hughes, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 2009, page 112
Date of Publication
Astronomy, Space & Time
Springerbriefs in Astronomy
Place of Publication
Country of Publication
28 black & white illustrations, 1 colour illustrations, biography