William Herschel // Credit: David J. Eicher
’s August tour of London
, some 25 readers and I had the great pleasure of seeing many important astronomical sites in England.
One of the videos I shot shows a walk through the celebrated house of William Herschel in Bath, England. The house is now known as the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and is located at 19 New King Street. The Herschels lived in the house during two periods, from 1777 to 1779 and from 1781 to 1784.
As you may know, the German-English musician-turned-astronomer Herschel (1738–1822) was one of the greats of all time and, among other things, discovered Uranus from his back garden at this house in 1781. His sister, Caroline Herschel (1750–1848), assisted in his astronomical work and became an accomplished astronomer and comet discoverer in her own right. Herschel’s son, John Frederick William Herschel (1792–1871), became an accomplished astronomer too, as well as a polymath, involved in photography, chemistry, botany, and other fields.
The house is very much as it was in Herschel’s day and is filled with artifacts. The video shows the entrance hallway, the dining room, a replica telescope like the one used for the discovery of Uranus, and a walk to the second floor rooms. There, you’ll see many artifacts of the family — books owned by the Herschels, papers, letters of discovery, a lock of William Herschel’s hair, and eyepieces and telescope parts used by Herschel. (Check out the letter from Caroline describing her discovery of a comet in Andromeda.)
You’ll also see a view into the garden where Herschel set up his telescope. (A fuller garden video is coming.)
The music room contains many interesting artifacts, including a peek into John Herschel’s mineral collection.
If you like astronomical history, this is like being a kid in a candy store. Enjoy!