By David Rives
Sir Frederick William Herschel was born in Hanover Germany, in 1738. His father was a musician who encouraged the young Herschel in the art of music, as well as mathematics. Aside from his native tongue of German, he also quickly picked up French, English, and Latin, and at 15, entered military service.
With a self-professed “insatiable desire for knowledge”, Herschel resigned from the military at the age of 19 and moved to England, where he became an organist in Yorkshire, then at Bath in 1766. A creative and renowned organist, he was talented with multiple musical instruments, and later became the director of the Bath orchestra. Herschel was the composer of twenty-four symphonies and many other smaller works.
But Sir William Herschel is perhaps even better known in the field of astronomy.
His love for mathematics fueled his interest in the sciences, and his study of optics became a starting point for an influential life in astronomy. After reading the observations of the top astronomers, he felt compelled to see the detail of planets like Jupiter and Saturn for himself. At around 36 years old, he acquired a small telescope but was not long “contented with knowing what former observers had seen”, and began design on an extremely large telescope of around 20 feet long. This would start him on a journey of discovery that would change the way we see our Solar System forever.
I’m David Rives,
Truly, the Heavens Declare the Glory of God.
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