Caroline Herschel

Caroline HerschelCaroline Herschel
Astronomer and Scientist
1750 – 1848 A.D.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel, sister of Sir William Herschel, was born in Hanover, Germany, March 16, 1750, and died there, January 9. 1848. She lived in Hanover till her twenty-second year, when she went to England to join her brother William at Bath. Here she turned her attention to astronomy, giving great assistance to her brother, not only taking the part of an amanuensis, but frequently performing alone the long complicated calculations involved in the observations. For her valuable assistance to the great astronomer she received a pension from George III.

Miss Herschel took many separate observations of the heavens with a small Newtonian telescope which her brother had made for her. With this she devoted herself particularly to a search after comets, and between 1786 and 1805 discover, alone, eight of these bodies, of five of which she was the first observer. Her contributions to science, most of them in her brother’s works and under his name, are very valuable. She took the original observations of several remarkable nebulae in her brother’s catalogue, and computed the places of his twenty-five thousand nebulae. Humbolt speaks of a still unresolved nebula as discovered by his friend. Miss Herschel. In 1798 she published her Catalogue of Stars, taken from Mr. Flamsteed’s observations.

After her brother’s death she returned to her native city and passed the rest of her days. In 1828 she completed a catalogue of the nebulae and stars observed by her brother, for which she received a gold medal from the Astronomical Society of London, and was elected an honorary member of it.

In 1847 she celebrated the ninety-seventh anniversary of her birth, when the King of Hanover sent to compliment her; the Prince and Princess Royal visited her; and the latter presented her with a magnificent armchair embroidered by herself; and the King of Prussia sent her the gold medal awarded for the “extension of the sciences.”


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.

Quote by Caroline Herschel