HerStory Thursdays: Caroline Herschel

Born in 1750 and the self described "Cinderella of the family" Caroline Herschel became the first woman to discover a comet and found nebulae and star clusters throughout her years as an astronomer with her brother. In the Herschel household, Caroline's father wanted all of his children to have a basic understanding and knowledge of mathematics as well as other subjects but her mother preferred that Caroline be the housemaid to the rest of the family. At the age of ten Caroline suffered from typhus and as a result, her growth became stunted and her family saw no hope of her ever marrying.


In 1772 she went to live with her older brother William, where she took care of his house and assisted him in his organ playing by singing along and becoming a professional soprano in her own right. When her brother shifted his focus into Astronomy, Caroline followed him and became his apprentice.

Over the years Caroline assisted her brother in many different ways, and became a respected astronomer in her own right with her brother assisting his work as the Royal Astronomer.

Caroline found a total of eight comets, three nebulae, and published two catalogues that are still in use today. At the age of 96 she received the King of Prussia's Gold Medal of Science and died a year later after receiving many other awards including one from the Royal Astronomical Society.