Where else can we find Herschel?




The name “Herschel” has been given to other things than the Herschel Space Observatory. Here are some examples (however, beware, not all “Herschels” are named for Sir William Herschel, many of them are named after his son and a few after his sister, Caroline):



On the Earth:


The 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain). When first put in operation in 1988 it was the third largest single mirror telescope in the world.


Mount Herschel in Antarctica: an impressive 3335-m peak is named after William Herschel’s son, Sir John Herschel.


Herschel Island in Yukon Territory, in the North West Territory of Canada is a coastal island in the Beaufort Sea. Again, it was named for William Herschel’s son, Sir John Herschel.



On the Moon:


There are three craters named “Herschel” on the Moon.


  • The best known of these is also named after William Herschel’s son, Sir John Herschel.





On Mars:


Sir William Herschel is honoured by a large and prominent crater on Mars that is filled with spectacular sand dunes. The floor of the crater reaches 2.5km below the surrounding hills.



In the Asteroid Belt:


Tradition required that for the first few thousand discoveries millenary asteroids should be named for special scientists. Asteroid 1934 NX was formally named (2000) Herschel for Sir William Herschel. It shows a quite large rotational variation with a rather slow period of 32.09 hours.



On Saturn’s moon Mimas:


William Herschel discovered Mimas on September 17th 1789. The Voyager spacecraft imaged it showing that it has a huge crater on one side that has been named for William Herschel. Unsurprisingly, it is been nicknamed “The Death Star”, because of its resemblance to the giant artificial moon in Star Wars.







There are several Herschel schools, including the Herschel Grammar School (Slough), the Herschelschule (Hanover) and Herschel School (Capetown), although this last is named after Sir John Herschel who spent several years working at the Cape. There is also a Herschel Society and a Herschel Museum in Bath. Sadly, Observatory House in Slough, the site of his 48-inch (1.2-m) telescope, was demolished in the 1960s despite a campaign to save it.