Institute of Astronomy

Sister of the more famous William: some reflections on the life and career of Caroline Herschel

SpeakerTalk DateWeekly Handout
Christina Koning12 November 2014
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Talk Summary

Caroline was the sister and amanuensis of the 'more famous' William Herschel, who, in 1781, discovered the planet Uranus, and at a stroke, doubled the size of the known universe.

Her contribution to this, and other groundbreaking discoveries made by her brother was not the only remarkable thing about her. Born in Hanover, the eighth of ten children of an impoverished musician and his wife, who had little formal eduction, she seemed desitined for a life of drudgery. But in 1773, her brother WIlliam, then working as Director of the Bath Choir, brought her to England, to train as a singer. Soon she was performing solo parts in oratorios and operas, as well as acting as WIlliam's assistant in his new passion - making telescopes. From then on, her life took a very different trajectory...

Christina Koning  is the author of the novel Variable Stars, which follows Caroline from her girlhood in Hanover to life in England, and eventual renown as an astronomer in her own right.

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