Publisher Information: 1840.
Herschel, John Frederick William (1792-1871). Autograph letter signed to Francis Baily (1774-1844). Feb. 5, 1840. 1 page plus integral address leaf. 231 x 187 mm. Small lacuna in address leaf where seal was broken (not affecting text), a few pin-holes, 19th-cent. printed biographical notice of Herschel tipped to top margin.
Herschel's letter to his fellow astronomer Francis Baily refuses an invitation and alludes to his own astronomical work:
My hands are so full that I find it impracticable to come up either tomorrow or Friday so that I must with many thanks & reluctantly deny myself the pleasure of being your guest.
I have no means of pointing my telescope on the comet's place-and I have no telescope to point.
Believe me, my dear sir, yours very truly, J. F. W. Herschel.
The comet mentioned in Herschel's letter might have been Comet C/1840 B1, discovered by Johann Gottfried Galle (1812-1910) in January 1840.
Herschel was one of the most important men of science of the Victorian era, making significant contributions to astronomy, mathematics, chemistry and photography. He was the author of Results of Astronomical Observations made at the Cape of Good Hope (1847), a survey of the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, in which he proposed the names still used today for the seven then-known satellites of Saturn. A few years later, he gave the four then-known satellites of Uranus their present names. He is also famous for having coined the term "photography" and for applying the terms "positive" and "negative" to photography. Francis Baily, whom Herschel had known since his student days at Cambridge, is best known for his description of "Baily's Beads," an optical phenomenon seen during solar eclipses. Baily was a founder of the Royal Astronomical Society. Dictionary of Scientific Biography.Book Id: 40152