Huggins, Sir William


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Huggins, Sir William,

1824–1910, English astronomer. Using a spectroscope, he began to study the chemical constitution of stars from the observatory attached to his home in Tulse Hill, London. He proved that while some nebulae are clusters of stars, others are uniformly gaseous (see nebulanebula
[Lat.,=mist], in astronomy, observed manifestation of a collection of highly rarefied gas and dust in interstellar space. Prior to the 1960s this term was also applied to bodies later discovered to be galaxies, e.g.
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). Huggins pioneered in spectroscopic photography and played a part in developing the combined use of the telescope, spectroscope, and photographic negative. He adapted the gelatin dry-plate negative for making astronomical photographs; this made possible exposures of any desired length. In 1866, Huggins made the first spectroscopic observations of a nova. He applied the Doppler effectDoppler effect,
change in the wavelength (or frequency) of energy in the form of waves, e.g., sound or light, as a result of motion of either the source or the receiver of the waves; the effect is named for the Austrian scientist Christian Doppler, who demonstrated the effect
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 to the measurement of stellar motions in the line of sight. Huggins was president (1900–1906) of the Royal Society. With his wife, Margaret Lindsay Murray, Lady Huggins, he prepared an Atlas of Representative Stellar Spectra (1899).
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