What Was William Herschel’s Day Job and How Many Telescopes Did Herschel Build In His Lifetime?

The key to William Herschel’s discoveries was his telescopes.

His desire to see farther and farther into space meant that he had to become an expert in optics as well as astronomy.

By 1779, he had built the best collection of telescopes in the world.

His best was a 7-foot instrument with a 6-inch mirror that could magnify 227 times. This was the telescope that found Uranus.

After Herschel became private astronomer to the king, the demand for his superior telescopes grew.

Orders from astronomers and kings came pouring in. King George bought five of his large 10-footers.

Herschel had little choice but to become a professional telescope maker.

In 1782, he opened a workshop near the king’s Windsor Castle. His incredible schedule included 12-hour days at the shop followed by eight hours of searching the night skies.

Over the years, he built 430 telescopes. If he never had become an astronomer, he would have been famous as a telescope maker.

A 1799 illustration showed a 40-foot reflecting telescope made by Sir William Herschel.

Herschel opened his telescope workshop in 1782, and by his death in 1822 he had created more than 430 of his amazing instruments.

Herschel discovered Saturn’s sixth and seventh satellites and Uranus’s first two satellites.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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