Herschel infrared light experiments, 1800

Herschel infrared light experiments, 1800

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This image is part of the sequence science and technology: Herschel infrared experiments


Caption: Herschel infrared light experiments, artwork. In 1800, the British astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) carried out a series of experiments that led to his discovery of infrared light. Here, sunlight was split into its colours by refraction in a prism, passed through a slit in a shade, and allowed to heat three thermometers. Adjusting the shade allowed the heating effects of different colours to be investigated. The hottest area, beyond visible red light, became known as infrared radiation. This illustration (plate X) accompanied the first of Herschel's four papers on this topic (read 27 March 1800), published in volume 90 of 'Philosophical Transactions' (Royal Society of London).

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