Lord William Parsons, Irish astronomer

Lord William Parsons, Irish astronomer

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Credit: GEORGE BERNARD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Lord William Parsons, third Earl of Rosse (1800- 1867), Irish astronomer, telescope builder and member of parliament. Originally born in York, England, he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. He was a member of parliament from 1822 until 1834, when he resigned to devote himself to astronomy. His ambition was to build a larger telescope than those of William Herschel. Unfortunately Herschel had left no plans, so it was only after many attempts that he finally built a reflecting telescope, the "Leviathan of Corkstown" with a 183 centimetre (72 inch) mirror. With this he discovered the first spiral galaxy in 1845 and named the Crab Nebula (M1, NGC 1952).

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