All day conference- A celebration of the astronomy of William Herschel- Sat 1 October 9:30 am – 6:00 pm


A joint conference put together by the Herschel Society in tandem with Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, and being held at Queen Square in Bath, is the centrepiece of the Herschel Society’s celebration of William Herschel’s achievements on the 200th anniversary of his death in 1822. If you love astronomy, but Herschel’s home city of Bath feels light years away, you might be pleased to know that you can attend the conference both live at Queen Square and online. Wherever you are in the world you will be able to engage in the company of likeminded enthusiasts.

Why is it that we celebrate Herschel over 200 years after his death? William Herschel’s discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781 brought him widespread fame, but his importance to astronomy rests much more on his pioneering work on the deep sky beyond our solar system over the subsequent decades.

This fantastic day of talks will bring the chance to explore William’s telescope making; observing methods; ground- breaking deductions; unique collaboration with Caroline his sister, in cataloguing the deep sky; his speculative views on life on other worlds and in William’s and Caroline’s own words. The conference will show what this has led to today in the latest astronomical survey work by the Gaia space observatory. It will also illustrate his achievements in other more surprising ways.

The conference delivers the chance to engage with Herschel’s work at a far deeper level and each talk allows for questions with the visiting speaker. There will also be the chance to talk among yourselves and share thoughts with likeminded friends. Tickets cost £15 for Members / £30 for Non-Members for those attending live at Queen Square and £10 for Members online and £25 for Non-Members online. Join BRLSI for a celebration of a man who To book or

Schedule for the day.

9.30 – Welcome and Introduction (Charles Draper, Chairman, Herschel Society)

9.45 – The Context of William’s Life and Work (Professor Mike Edmunds, President of the Royal Astronomical Society)

10.00 – William’s Telescopes (Dr Jim Bennett, Keeper Emeritus of the Science Museum, London) William built the finest deep sky telescopes in the world in the late Eighteenth century, but just how he prepared and finished the reflecting surfaces of these astonishing instruments is less well understood.

10.45 – Coffee

11.00 – William’s Astronomy (Dr Wolfgang Steinicke, author of William Herschel – Discoverer of the Deep Sky). William and Caroline catalogued 2500 deep sky objects, and William deduced many important characteristics of them and our galaxy as a result. Their results and methods were key pioneering works of modern astronomy.

12.00 – William and Caroline in their own words (Dr Sian Prosser, Librarian and Archivist at the Royal Astronomical Society) William and Caroline have left us fascinating records of their work, including annotations on an earlier star atlas and revealingly different accounts of important events.

12.45 – Lunch Interval (self-organised). Demonstrations by Dr Bob Fosbury (ex European Space Agency astrophysicist and current UCL researcher on vision) on Infra-Red Radiation and Bath Spa University Students of their 3D virtual model of William’s finest telescope.

13.45 – William and Georgian views on extra-terrestrial life (Dr Josh Nall, Curator at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge) William strongly believed in the presence of life on heavenly bodies – even the sun. This was not unusual in his time.

14.30 – Giant Strides from Herschel to Gaia; Mapping the Sky from Space (Dr Michael Perryman, Ex Space Scientist with the European Space Agency, including key leadership roles on the Gaia Mission) Tracing the steps of how comprehensive surveys of the sky are revolutionising our understanding of the universe as they did in the Herschel’s’ time.

15.30 – Coffee

15.45 – Round Table Discussion

16.45 – Closing remarks by Dr Allan Chapman (President of the Herschel Society)

17.00 – Closing drinks for those at BRLSI

17.45 – End


SATURDAY 1ST OCT 2022, [LIVE at 16 Queen Square Bath OR Online] Tickets: [£15 for Members / £30 for Non-Members at the BRLSI or £10 for Members online/ £20 Non-Members online] at or via


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