Profile of the Day: Caroline Herschel

Posted March 16, 2018 by Amanda | No Comment
Profile of the Day: Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel

On this day in 1750, astronomer Caroline Herschel was born in Hanover, Germany. A pioneer for women in the field of astronomy, Herschel made several significant contributions to the field, including the discovery of several comets.

As a young girl, Herschel was struck with typhus, which stunted her growth. At just 4 feet and 3 inches, her mother believed that she would be destined for spinsterhood and would not require much of an education. However, her father decided to educate Herschel himself against her mother’s wishes.

Herschel spent much of her career in astronomy working alongside her brother William, who built his own telescopes to note his observations of the stars and planets. Herschel assisted her brother by grinding and polishing mirrors and learned to record, calculate, and organize her brother’s astronomical observations. When her brother was appointed Court Astronomer by King George III, Herschel was given an annual salary as his assistant, making her the first woman to receive a salary for scientific work.

An astronomer in her own right, Herschel specialized in the search for comets. Some of her most significant contributions to the field include the discovery of new nebulae as well as eight comets, several of which bear her name. After her brother’s death, Herschel continued to catalogue nebulae. In 1828, she became the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Herschel died on January 9, 1848 at the age of 97. Her tombstone reads, “The eyes of her who is glorified here below turned to the starry heavens.”

Explore Caroline Herschel’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related to the astronomer!

View Caroline Herschel’s Geni Profile

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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