A Comet? No, that’s Uranus!

March 13, 1781

Using a telescope, English astronomer William Herschel notices a small object that would move slowly across the sky over the next several days. At first thinking he had discovered a comet, continued observation revealed a planet, soon named Uranus after the Greek god of the sky. This event was also notable as it was the first time a planet was discovered by telescope.

The discovery of the planet led to Herschel’s appointment as royal court astronomer by King George III which allowed him to further pursue astronomy. Over 20 years Herschel would observe and catalog 2,500 new nebulae and star clusters as well as two moons around Uranus and two more around Saturn. He also proposed the name “asteroids” for the objects discovered in 1801.