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Sir William Herschel

(1738-1822), Astronomer

Regency Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 12 portraits
In 1781 the amateur astronomer Herschel identified Uranus, the first planet to be discovered since Antiquity. He was appointed court astronomer to George III the following year, 1782. Working with his sister Caroline (1750-1848), whom he had trained, he made four complete surveys of the night sky and was the first person correctly to describe the Milky Way. Using his great forty-foot telescope constructed over four years, he found two new satellites of Saturn in 1789. Herschel's discoveries astonished the public and inspired Romantic writers like Blake, Byron and Keats. He discovered more than two thousand nebulae and over eight hundred double stars.

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