The son of the discoverer of Uranus, William Herschel, Sir John Herschel (born 1792) was an accomplished astronomer in his own right. A founding member of the Royal Astronomical Society, he carried on his father's work observing and cataloguing stars, nebulae and double stars and even moved his family to South Africa to see parts of the night sky not visible in England.
He also observed sunspots and measured solar radiation with an apparatus he designed himself. Later, Herschel discovered a key chemical reaction used in photography.
Photo: John Herschel (Mary Evans Picture Library)
The son of Uranus's discoverer carries on the family tradition.
What can a tin of water, a thermometer and an umbrella tell us?
Professor Brian Cox re-creates Sir John Herschel's 1838 experiment, which measured the amount of solar energy that falls on the Earth, with a tin, some water, a thermometer and an umbrella.
Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH FRS (7 March 1792 – 11 May 1871) was an English polymath, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor, and experimental photographer, who also did valuable botanical work. He was the son of Mary Baldwin and astronomer William Herschel, and the father of twelve children.
Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy. He named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays; his Preliminary Discourse (1831), which advocated an inductive approach to scientific experiment and theory building, was an important contribution to the philosophy of science.