Dr Emily Winterburn from the University of Leeds Museum, gave a presentation at the November society meeting on the famous Herschel Family. After completing her University studies. Dr Winterburn began work In 1998 as Curator of Astronomy at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (part of the National Maritime Museum). In 2009 she was appointed her present post as curator at the History of Science, Technology and Medicine Museum at the University of Leeds.
William Frederick Herschel (1738–1822) must be prominently placed in the top ten of anyone’s list of the world’s great astronomers, for two main reasons. First, he almost single-handedly transformed astronomy from the restricted study of our near neighbourhood, into a consideration of the much more distant universe. Second, he did this by building and using his own telescopes. These were not just any old telescopes. They were a succession of the most optically precise telescopes of the day. On 13th March 1781 he serendipitously discovered the planet Uranus.
His sister Caroline, dramatically changed her role as the family’s ‘Cinderella’ to become a role model for today’s astronomical sisterhood. Dr Winterburn also described the following generations of the family and there role in the progress of science.