SpringerBriefs in Astronomy

William and Caroline Herschel

Pioneers in Late 18th-Century Astronomy

Authors: Hoskin, Michael

  • Answers the question: why are the Herschels important in history of science?
  • Shows a complete set of portraits of William and Caroline Herschel which have never before been published as a complete reference collection in a single book
  • Includes a charming appendix on how visitors to the Herschels recorded their encounters with "The Herschels at Work"
  • Authored by the founder and first director of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge
  • Published under the auspices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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  • ISBN 978-94-007-6875-8
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  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $49.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-6874-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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About this book

This beautifully structured book presents the essentials of William and Caroline Herschel’s pioneering achievements in late 18th-century astronomy. Michael Hoskin shows that William Herschel was the first observational cosmologist and one of the first observers to attack the sidereal universe beyond the solar system:

  • Herschel built instruments far better than any being used at the royal observatory.
  • Aided by his sister Caroline, he commenced a great systematic survey that led to his discovery of Uranus in 1781.
  • Unlike observers before him, whose telescopes did not reveal them as astronomical objects, Herschel did not ignore misty patches of light. Hoskins points out Herschel’s achievement in surveying, cataloguing, and describing them as “nebulae” and even coming to the correct conclusion that their structure evolved over time, with Newton’s gravity being the agent of change.
  • Herschel’s surveys established a new astronomy – looking at the universe rather than the planets! Michael Hoskin’s account includes sketches and diagrams from Herschel’s manuscripts in the Royal Astronomical Society Archives in which he attempts to delineate the structure of the Milky Way galaxy.

While it is well-known that Herschel was a revolutionary in telescope design who constructed the world’s largest telescopes, Hoskin also gives the full picture of the man as an entrepreneur who built and traded some 400 telescopes.

Hoskin also pays close attention to the role of William's sister Caroline Herschel, who is usually portrayed as a “helpmate” to her brother. But in fact she became a significant astronomer in her own right.

This book also offers a wealth of information of the wider Herschel family. It is enriched by a complete set of portraits of William and Caroline Herschel with an extensive set of images of their residences and closes with a charming appendix on how visitors to the Herschels recorded their encounters.

William and Caroline Herschel – Pioneers in Late 18th-Century Astronomy will appeal to amateur astronomers and all those interested in popular astronomy. This book will rapidly establish itself as the primary introductory work for students, astronomers, and scholars working on the history of natural science in the late 18th century.

About the authors

Michael Hoskin is one of the greatest living scholars in the history of astronomy. He is an Emeritus Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. He was the founder and first director of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, and this is now the largest department of its kind in the world.

“Michael Hoskin, the Cambridge academic, is the world authority on the Herschel family. In this delightful, erudite and informative book (The family of the astronomers William and Caroline Herschel) ....  Hoskin wears his expertise lightly and has produced at one and the same time a most readable and enjoyable overview of the life and scientific accomplishments of this family as well as an extremely well referenced and useful introduction to the state of English astronomy at the turn of the nineteenth century.”

            David W. Hughes, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 2009, page 112

Reviews

“This book, in about one hundred pages, condenses the extraordinary life of two 18th century astronomers. … The work follows the typical chronological structure of biographycal narrations. … This book suits to many different readers. From the undergraduate students of History of Astronomy to the interested amateur.” (Gabriella Bernardi, Astrocom et al., astrocometal.blogspot.de, January, 2017)

“This book, part of the ‘SpringerBriefs in Astronomy’ series, can easily be understood by laypersons, and it makes an attractive addition for any library serving amateur astronomers and students. … Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through graduate students; general readers.” (A. R. Upgren, Choice, Vol. 51 (9), May, 2014)


Table of contents (6 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $39.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-007-6875-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $49.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-6874-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Rent the ebook  
  • Rental duration: 1 or 6 month
  • low-cost access
  • online reader with highlighting and note-making option
  • can be used across all devices
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
William and Caroline Herschel
Book Subtitle
Pioneers in Late 18th-Century Astronomy
Authors
Series Title
SpringerBriefs in Astronomy
Copyright
2014
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-94-007-6875-8
DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-6875-8
Softcover ISBN
978-94-007-6874-1
Series ISSN
2191-9100
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 112
Number of Illustrations and Tables
28 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
Additional Information
Jointly published with the Royal Astronomical Society
Topics