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Herschel discovers infrared light, 1800

Herschel discovers infrared light, 1800

H408/0384

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Credit

CCI ARCHIVES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CCI ARCHIVES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Sir Frederick William Herschel (1738-1822), Anglo-German astronomer conducting his 1800 experiment to discover infrared light. Sunlight was split into the spectrum of colours using a prism, and a thermometer (and two control thermometers) used to measure each colour's temperature. The temperature rose from violet to red, and was highest beyond red. Herschel had discovered infrared rays, which are not visible to the human eye. Herschel also discovered Uranus in 1781, and built the most powerful telescopes of the day, using mirrors, rather than lenses. The largest (seen through the window) was 12 metres long and was built from 1785 onwards. Artwork after a painting by Ken Hodges.

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