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The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos (Great Discoveries)by Michael D. Lemonick
Synopses & Reviews
Trained as a musician, amateur scientist William Herschel found international fame after discovering the planet Uranus in 1781. Though he is still best known for this finding, his partnership with his sister Caroline yielded groundbreaking work, including techniques that remain in use today. The duo pioneered comprehensive surveys of the night sky, carefully categorizing every visible object in the void. Caroline wrote an influential catalogue of nebulae, and William discovered infrared radiation. Celebrated science writer Michael Lemonick guides readers through the depths of the solar system and into his protagonists' private lives: William developed bizarre theories about inhabitants of the sun; he procured an unheard-of salary for Caroline even while haggling with King George III over the funding for an enormous, forty-foot telescope; the siblings feuded over William's marriage and eventually reconciled. Erudite and accessible, The Georgian Star is a lively portrait of the pair who invented modern astronomy.
"Former Time magazine science writer Lemonick provides an entertaining and illuminating look at a pathbreaking astronomical partnership. When William Herschel, in 1781, discovered Uranus (which he named the Georgian Star in hopes of getting much-needed funding from King George), he was a self-taught amateur astronomer earning his living as a musician. When the king offered Herschel 200 per year — a 50% drop in income — the astronomer gladly accepted the chance to become the king's astronomer. His goal was to discover how the universe was constructed, and Herschel, an obsessive observer, made a remarkable number of discoveries, including infrared radiation. He also taught his sister Caroline to help with his work, and soon she was publishing her own discoveries, hunting comets and cataloguing thousands of stars and nebulae. When the king agreed to give her a salary, she became the first paid woman scientist. Lemonick (Echo of the Big Bang) paints a vibrant and revealing picture of these two scientists whose painstaking observation and cataloguing paved the way for modern astronomy. 9 illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
'\'A bright, shiny gift to popular-science collections.\"Booklist\n
Responsible for the greatest advances in astronomy since Copernicus, William and Caroline Herschel forever transformed our view of the heavens.
About the Author
A former senior science writer at Time, Michael Lemonick is the author of several books, including Echo of the Big Bang. He teaches at Princeton, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins Universities, and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
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