He discovered infrared radiation, the planet Uranus and two of its moons, two moons of Saturn, and the seasonal variation of the polar caps of Mars. And he built his own reflecting telescopes, casting, grinding and polishing the mirrors. But he began as a musician and he composed symphonies, concertos, sonatas and church music.
Astronomer Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans of St Andrews University – who like him plays the oboe – tells the story of the remarkable Sir William Herschel, who died two hundred years ago, and of his sister Caroline who helped with his discoveries and continued her work after his death; she was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal in 1828. Music by Herschel is played by Elizabeth Sullivan (violin), Valerie Webster (cello) and George McPhee (organ).
With thanks to Herschel Press and The Herschel Society for providing transcriptions from the original manuscripts of the music in this event.
Supported by Loganair