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  Themes Homepage > Caroline Herschel
Famous Slough
Caroline Herschel

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Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born on 16th March 1750 in Hanover, Germany.

In 1772 she joined her older brother, William, in Bath, where she trained as a singer. Before long she was appearing on stage in Bristol and Bath, singing lead soprano. However, she gave up her singing career to support William in his astronomy.

In April 1786, William and Caroline moved to Observatory House in Slough, and on 1st August 1786 Caroline discovered a comet, described as the 'first lady's comet', as it was the first to be discovered by a woman. Caroline went on to discover seven more comets.

Caroline Herschel
Caroline Herschel

Her other astronomical work was also significant. In twenty years of observations, she increased the number of known nebulae from 100 to 2500, and she also rearranged and corrected Flamsteed's star catalogue, for which she was awarded the gold medal of the Astronomical Society.

In 1787 Caroline received a royal pension of £50 per year to work as William's assistant, but in 1788 her life changed considerably when William married. Caroline had to move out of Observatory House, but still remained heavily involved in William's career until his death in 1822, when she returned to Hanover.

In 1835, Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville became the first honorary women members of the Royal Society, and she was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1838. On her 96th birthday the King of Prussia presented her with a gold medal for science.

Caroline died in 1848 aged 97. In 1889 a small planet was named Lucretia in her honour, and there is a crater named Crater C Herschel on the moon.

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  Themes Homepage > Caroline Herschel
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