This is a recording of the opening talk in the BRLSI’s Herschel Conference held on October 1st 2022. The recording starts with a general introduction to the conference from Herschel Society chairman Charles Draper before Mike Edmunds puts Herschel’s life and work in context. Mike’s talk is a brief outline of William’s life, mainly told through timelines, to help orient the audience and provide a historic context for William’s work. Mike Edmunds is Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at Cardiff University and former Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. He was educated at Cambridge, but has lived and worked in Wales for over 45 years. His research career involved the determination and interpretation of the abundances of the chemical elements in the Universe, and of the origin of interstellar dust. Later work has been in the history of astronomy, in particular the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism and the early history of the Royal Astronomical Society, of which he becomes President for two years in May 2022. He was a member of two UK Research Councils (PPARC and STFC). He can occasionally be seen in his one-man play about Newton – “Sir Isaac Remembers…”. He is proud to be a Vice-President of the Herschel Society and an Honorary Vice-President of the Society for the History of Astronomy. Charles Draper was going to be an astronomer but spent his time at university doing too many other things and joined the MOD instead, though he remained a keen amateur observer. He retired from his Whitehall career in 2009, and returned to a more active role in astronomy in Bath, helping to revive Bath Astronomers from 2010, and since 2016 has been Chairman of what is now the Herschel Society.
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