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Caroline Herschel 10 Jul 2009
The Comet Sweeper
The first woman to earn her living through science.

This year is the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope, and to mark the event a major exhibition opens at the National Science Museum. Central to the celebrations is the astronomer William Herschel who built a huge telescope which enabled him to discover the planet Uranus. But as in many of these things … Herschel had a sister. In 1787 Caroline Herschel became the first woman in Britain to earn her living through science – she was awarded fifty pounds a year by George the Third. She’s best known for discovering comets. She was originally from Germany, and was also assistant to her brother. Nicola Swords spoke to Caroline Herschel’s biographer, Claire Brock, author of ‘The Comet Sweeper’ and to Ian Morrison, an astronomer at Jodrell Bank.

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