Sunday, 13 March 2016


William Herschel
TODAY IN HISTORY: March 13, 1781
It would be midway through the journey of life as a true polymath that 43 year-old Hanover native, composer, and astronomer William Herschel made the astonishing discovery of (what he believed to be) a stellar disk, or comet, hurtling it’s way through the far off heavens whilst star gazing the night skies over Bath in England. That ‘comet’ turned out to be something far grander in scope for both 18th century intelligentsia and for common man alike: it was soon determined not to be the rocky cosmic projectile as the composer-astronomer once thought, but rather a massive spherical world made up of ice, better known today as the planet Uranus!

Herschel's ground-breaking first sighting of the frigid giant occurred 235 years ago on the 13th day of March in 1781, transpiring just before the close of the Age of Enlightenment, helping solidify the era as a highly innovative, progressive and astonishingly rich period of epic discovery.

This 18th century dynamo would bestow to the world further extraordinary beauties that were both 'seismic' in scope and equally as celestial as his astronomical discovery when he left behind a delectable collection of self-composed symphonies, concertos, and sacred music for posterity to enjoy.

Listen below to the Largo e cantabile from Herschel’s Chamber Symphony in F minor, highlighted by a glorious bounty of images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope:

Did you know?

“Uranus,” the planet of never-ending puns, wasn’t always considered to be the "butt" of a joke: the Ice Giant went through multiple name changes, once even holding the handle of it’s 18th century appropriator, Herschel (a placeholder title after the name “Georgium Sidus” (Georgian Star)named by Herschel in honor of King George III of Great Britain and Hanover became the source of contestation by the French), before the now somewhat medical, somewhat crude sounding name of “Uranus,” named after the Greek God of the Sky, was universally agreed upon.

Learn more about the fascinating life and further scientific discoveries of Sir William Herschel (External Link)


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