Notes from the Cape
John Herschel documented most of his days in South Africa. Read a few excerpts from his journal to learn more about the astronomer.
During his journey to South Africa, Herschel set out to do extraordinary things, but he lived a normal life at the same time. He kept a journal throughout his 4 years at the Cape of Good Hope. He documented his daily activities, dinner parties, the landscape, and, of course, his observing time at his observatory. What follows is a selection of his entries.
Notice Herschel's attention to detail when describing the landscape in his excerpt from April 20, 1834; his entries concerning his invention of the "astrometer" in March 1836; and most notably, his description of Eta Carina's brightening in December 1837. Because the journal was Herschel's private notes, there are many abbreviations in the text. When the entries were compiled and published as a collection, they were preserved in their original form as close as possible.