Friday, January 8, 2010


A thrilling discovery--I can detect her thrill, as well as her caution regarding such a discovery-- in Caroline Herschel's diary, August 1786:

August 1st 1786. 9 hours 50 mins. I saw the a star out of focus while the others were perfectly clear...I have calculated 100 nebulae today, and this evening I saw an object which I believe will prove tomorrow to be a Comet.

August 2nd. Today I calculated 150 nebulae. I fear it will not be clear tonight, it has been raining throughout the whole day...1 o'clock. the object of last night IS A COMET.

August 3rd. I did not go to rest until I had written to Dr. Blagden and Mr. Aubert to announce the Comet.

August 5th. I calculated nebulae all day...paid the smith. The night was tolerably fine and I SAW THE COMET.

From Richard Holmes' terrific book, The Age of Wonder.


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