William Herschel was without question the greatest visual observer who ever lived. Variously regarded as the “Father of Observational Astronomy” and the “Father of Sidereal Astronomy,” he single-handedly opened the frontiers of deep space to telescopic exploration. In the course of his grand scheme to study what he called the “construction of the heavens,” he discovered literally thousands of previously unknown double and multiple stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Talk about “Going where no man has gone before” (to borrow a line from Star Trek)! Although self-taught and so technically an amateur astronomer, he transformed the world of professional astronomy – which at the time had been largely concerned with the solar system and the positions of the stars – and set it on a course that is still under full sail today. (Incidentally, the word “amateur” is derived from the Latin word “amare” which means “to love” – or more precisely, from “amator” which means “one who loves.” An amateur astronomer is one who loves the stars. And surely no one loved them more than did Sir William.) (Fig. 1.1)
KeywordsObservational Astronomy Star Cluster Ghostly Image Multiple Star Star Trek
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