Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The "Accidental" Discovery of Uranus

Pin It Now! Before you all yawn a big yawn, I am writing about this amazing discovery because this greenish-blue planet was discovered by amateur astronomers--home schooled, amateur astronomers. We learned this during home school last year.

In 1781, German home schoolers, William Herschel and his sister Caroline, discovered Uranus purely by accident. On an ordinary day, these two kids were looking through one of their telescopes that William had actually built himself, and they noticed a light that looked more like a disc than a star. After several months of observation they realized it was indeed a planet and not a comet like they had originally thought.

This brother and sister became instantly famous!! They even got to name the planet. And I thought it was interesting that at first they didn't want to name it after a Roman god, which was tradition. They came from a devout Christian family and wanted to name the newly discovered planet after their king, George III. That didn't fly with everyone. Lots of folks wanted them to name it, Herschel, but unfortunately for some reason they did in fact choose to name it after another Roman god. I think it will be so neat to finally find out the real names of all of the planets God has made.

After their discovery the government paid them to be full time astronomers!! At the time they were both making money by singing and playing in the opera. (No, I don't think they had an astronomy certificate.) Caroline found many comets, and William discovered 2 of Saturn's moons, among other things. Eventually they did get something named after them. Mimas, one of the moons that William discovered has a huge crater that makes it look like the Star Wars "death star". Astronomers honored the work of the Herschels by naming this huge crater, Herschel crater.

Now isn't that just a snazzy, little home school story. I am on the prowl to find more!!!

One more thing--I know lots of very gifted people have been taught in the public schools too. I am not against public school. Just against gov. forcing parents to send their kids to it. I went to public school, ya know. (Hmm, maybe that is why I am not very gifted?? Oh well, that's another story. :))


Anonymous said...

Not only did you go to public school, I believe you finished in the "top ten" of your class, right?

Terri said...

Great story - I never knew that.

Knit-Wit said...

Very Cool Story! Somedays I wonder why I homeschool... but then I think that maybe someday my kids or maybe even my grandkids will do something wonderful simply because I took the time to educate them at home.


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