Caroline Herschel's 'Comet Catcher' telescope, 1844.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The telescope shown in this engraving is from 'A Cycle of Celestial Objects' by William Smyth, first published in 1844. It shows the so-called 'Comet Catcher' used by Caroline Herschel to discover no less than eight comets between 1786 and 1797. On its squat base, the small reflecting telescope can be moved in both a vertical and horizontal direction while searching for comets. Caroline was the devoted observing assistant of her more famous brother, Sir William Herschel. Overshadowed by him, she received greater recognition after his death in 1822. After returning to her native Hanover in Germany, Caroline was feted as the greatest scientist of the day, and awarded the gold medal of the Prussian Academy of Science.