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William Herschel

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John Frederick William Herschel 1738-1822

Sir John Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS (German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel; November 15, 173815 November 1738
3 Kislev 5499 He
3 Kislev 5742 AM
August 25, 182225 August 1822
8 Elul 5582 He
7 Elul 5825 AM
) was German-born English astronomer and one of the pioneers of modern astronomy.


Degrees and Discoveries

Herschel became an astronomer. He improved the telescope and discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. Herschel also discovered two more moons of Saturn — Mimas and Enceladus. He was knighted in 1816 and received every honor the scientific world could bestow. And he became the first president of the newly formed Astronomical Society of London.

Christian Beliefs

Herschel was a Christian. He believed that God's universe was characterized by order and planning. His discovery of that order led him to conclude that "the undevout astronomer must be mad" and when he discovered Uranus, he showed that the laws that govern our earth and moon are the same throughout the heavens.

In his diary, Herschel wrote:

The difference was occasioned by an exclamation of the First Consul’s, who asked in a tone of exclamation or admiration (when we were speaking of the extent of the sidereal heavens) ‘and who is the author of all this.’ M. de La Place wished to shew that a chain of natural causes would account for the construction and preservation of the wonderful system; this the First Consul rather opposed. Much may be said on the subject; by joining the arguments of both we shall be led to ‘Nature and Nature’s God.’

Another famous quote of William Herschel is:

"Time! Time! Time! — we must not impugn the Scripture Chronology, but we must interpret it in accordance with whatever shall appear on fair inquiry to be the truth for there cannot be two truths. And really there is scope enough: for the lives of the Patriarchs may as reasonably be extended to 5,000 or 50,000 years apiece as the days of Creation to as many thousand millions of years." — John Frederick William Herschel

Astronomical Discoveries

List of celestial bodies discovered by William Herschel:
Name Date of discovery Primary Semi-major axis Sidereal period
Uranus 2371628.513 March 178113 March 1781
16 Adar 5541 He
47 Adar 5784 AM
Sun 2.87246E+122,872,460,000 km19.201 AU
1,784,863,894.854 mi
30681.615300230,681.615 da84.002 a
Titania 2373758.511 January 178711 January 1787
21 Teveth 5547 He
21 Teveth 5790 AM
Uranus 435910000435,910 km0.00291 AU
270,861.916 mi
8.7058728.706 da0.0238 a
Oberon 2373758.511 January 178711 January 1787
21 Teveth 5547 He
21 Teveth 5790 AM
Uranus 583520000583,520 km0.0039 AU
362,582.518 mi
13.46323913.463 da0.0369 a
Mimas 2374677.518 July 178918 July 1789
24 Tammuz 5549 He
25 Tammuz 5792 AM
Saturn 185520000185,520 km0.00124 AU
115,276.784 mi
0.94242180.942 da0.00258 a
Enceladus 2374718.528 August 178928 August 1789
6 Elul 5549 He
7 Elul 5792 AM
Saturn 238020000238,020 km0.00159 AU
147,898.771 mi
1.3702181.37 da0.00375 a

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