John Herschel

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Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS (March 7, 1792 – May 11, 1871) [2] was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work.[2] He was the son of astronomer Sir Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel and the father of 12 children.[2]

Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy. He named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays.


Early life and work on astronomy

Herschel was born in Slough, Berkshire, and studied shortly at Eton College and St John's College, Cambridge. He graduated as Senior wrangler in 1813.[3] It was during his time as an undergraduate that he became friends with Charles Babbage and George Peacock.[2] He took up astronomy in 1816, building a reflecting telescope with a mirror 18 inches (460 mm) in diameter and with a 20-foot (6.1 m) focal length. Between 1821 and 1823 he re-examined, with James South, the double stars catalogued by his father. For this work he was presented in 1826 with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (which he won again in 1836), and with the Lalande Medal of the French Institute in 1825, while in 1821 the Royal Society bestowed upon him the Copley Medal for his mathematical contributions to their Transactions. Herschel was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order in 1831.[2]

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