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  • Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS was a German-born British astronomer, composer, and brother of Caroline Herschel. Born in the Electorate of Hanover, Herschel followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover, before migrating to Great Britain at the age of nineteen. Herschel became interested in astronomy in 1773, and after constructing his first large telescope in 1774, he spent nine years carrying out thorough sky surveys, where his purpose was the investigation of double stars. The resolving power of the Herschel telescopes revealed that the nebulae in the Messier catalogue were clusters of stars: catalogues of nebulae were published in 1802 and 1820. In the course of an observation on 13 March 1781 he realized that one celestial body he had observed was not a star, but a planet, Uranus. This was the first planet to be discovered since antiquity and Herschel became famous overnight. As a result of this discovery George III appointed him 'Court Astronomer'. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and grants were provided for the construction of new telescopes.

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Year Award category Award winner Winning work Ceremony Achievement level Notes/Description
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  • "For the Communication of his Discovery of a new and singular Star; a discovery which does him particular honour, as, in all probability, this start has been for many years, perhaps ages, within the bounds of astronomic vision, and yet till now, eluded the most diligent researches of other observers."

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  • Herschel founded stellar astronomy. He was the first to extend observations beyond the solar system into galactic and extra-galactic space.

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