The musician who discovered URANUS and laid foundation of INFRARED !!!
Posted March 12th, 2014
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Frederick William Herschel,(15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a Hanoverian-born British astronomer, technical expert, and composer. Born in the Electorate of Hanover, Herschel followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover, before migrating to Great Britain at the age of nineteen. He became famous for his discovery of the planet Uranus, along with two of its major moons, Titania and Oberon, and also discovered two moons of Saturn. In addition, he was the first person to discover the existence of infrared radiation. He is also known for the twenty-four symphonies, and many other musical pieces, that he composed.


Herschel was born in the Electorate of Hanover, part of the Holy Roman Empire, one of ten children of Isaac Herschel by his marriage to Anna Ilse Moritzen. Herschel's father Isaak sent his two sons to seek refuge in England in late 1757.Although his older brother Jakob had received his dismissal from the Hanoverian Guards, Wilhelm was accused of desertion (for which he was pardoned by George III in 1782). Wilhelm, nineteen years old at this time, was a quick student of the English language. In England he went by the English rendition of his name, Frederick William Herschel. In addition to the oboe, he played the violin and harpsichord and later the organ. He composed numerous musical works, including 24 symphonies and many concertos, as well as some church music. Six of his symphonies were recorded in April 2002 by the London Mozart Players, conducted by Matthias Bamert (Chandos 10048).

Herschel's music led him to an interest in mathematics and lenses. His interest in astronomy grew stronger after he made the acquaintance of the English Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne. He started building his own reflecting telescopes and would spend up to 16 hours a day grinding and polishing the speculum metal primary mirrors. He "began to look at the planets and the stars" in May 1773 and on 1 March 1774 began an astronomical journal by noting his observations of Saturn's rings and the Great Orion Nebula.

In March 1781, during his search for double stars, Herschel noticed an object appearing as a nonstellar disk. Herschel originally thought it was a comet or a star. He made many more observations of it, and afterwards Russian Academician Anders Lexell computed the orbit and found it to be probably planetary. Herschel determined in agreement that it must be a planet beyond the orbit of Saturn. He called the new planet the 'Georgian star' (Georgium sidus) after King George III, which also brought him favour; the name did not stick. In France, where reference to the British king was to be avoided if possible, the planet was known as 'Herschel' until the name 'Uranus' was universally adopted. 

Herschel moved to Sunderland in 1761 when Charles Avison immediately engaged him as first violin and soloist for his Newcastle orchestra, where he played for one season. In ‘Sunderland in the County of Durh: apprill 20th 1761’ he wrote his symphony No. 8 in c minor. He was head of the Durham Militia band 1760–61 and visited the home of Sir Ralph Milbanke at Halnaby Hall in 1760, where he wrote two symphonies, as well as giving performances himself. In 1780, Herschel was appointed director of the Bath orchestra, with his sister often appearing as soprano soloist.

On 11 February 1800, Herschel was testing filters for the sun so he could observe sun spots. When using a red filter he found there was a lot of heat produced. Herschel discovered infrared radiation in sunlight by passing it through a prism and holding a thermometer just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. Further experimentation led to Herschel's conclusion that there must be an invisible form of light beyond the visible spectrum.

Herschel used a microscope to establish that coral was not a plant, as many believed at the time, since it lacked the cell walls characteristic of plants. He also coined the word "asteroid", meaning star-like (from the Greek asteroeidesaster "star" + -eidos "form, shape"), in 1802 (shortly after Olbers discovered the second minor planet2 Pallas, in late March), to describe the star-like appearance of the small moons of the giant planets and of the minor planets; the planets all show discs, by comparison. By the 1850s 'asteroid' became a standard term for describing certain minor planets.

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