Herschel's seven-foot telescope, 1795-1816.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 32cm

Herschel's seven-foot telescope, 1795-1816.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


The famous English astronomer Sir William Herschel (1738-1822) made this telescope for his sister Caroline Herschel (1750-1848). She was William's lifelong observing asistant and an astronomer in her own right, having discovered eight comets. Her telescope has a seven foot wooden tube and stand that is operated using pulley ropes and gears. The heart of the telescope is a 6 1/8-inch (156mm) diameter mirror made of speculum metal; a bronze alloy with arsenic added to it to give a more reflective surface. The instrument is made of painted deal - a type of pine - and is thought to be similar to the telescope that Herschel used to discover the planet Uranus in 1781.

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