37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 35 Deep Impact I
Invited, HAD Intro., Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 11:45am-12:45pm, Music Concert Hall

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[35.01] Caroline Herschel as an Observer

M. A. Hoskin (Churchill College, Cambridge)

Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) made an immense contribution to astronomy as amanuensis to her brother William during his sweeps for nebulae that resulted in catalogues of 2507 nebulae and clusters, but she was also an observer on her own account. From their arrival near Windsor in the fall of 1782 until William required her services at the beginning of 1784, she was free to observe when she so wished. During this time she discovered a number of nebulae, and, more importantly, demonstrated to William that nebulae were there in such numbers that even an amateur with a primitive refractor could find them. There then followed years when William's need for her help limited the time for her own observing, but in 1786, during his absence abroad, she discovered her first comet. In the period between William's marriage in 1788 (which relieved her of household duties) and her inexplicable move into lodgings in 1797, she found seven more, including Encke's Comet. In my paper I assess her work as an observer and discuss the objects she found.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.