William Huggins

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Huggins, William


Born Feb. 7, 1824, in London; died there May 12, 1910. English astronomer. Fellow (from 1865) and president (1900–05) of the Royal Society of London.

Huggins was one of the first to make use of spectral analysis and photography in astronomy. In 1864 he positively established the existence of gaseous nebulas. He studied the chemical composition of stars. In 1868 he determined the radial velocities of a number of bright stars from the displacement of lines in their spectra. He showed that the spectra of comets differ from the spectra of gaseous nebulas and that carbon lines exist in cometary spectra. Huggins was one of the first to observe solar prominences at times other than during eclipses. In 1882 he photographed the solar corona under conditions other than eclipse conditions. In the period 1902–05 he studied the spectrum of radium.


“Sir William Huggins.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1910, vol. 71, pp. 261–70.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Caption: RECORDED LIGHT William Huggins sketched the emission lines he detected in NGC 6543 with his 8-inch Clark refractor and visual spectroscope.
LIVERPOOL-born William Huggins (1820-1884), with Stubbs and Augustus John, is among the best and, arguably, the most original animal painter of the Victorian era.
GALILEO GALILEI, Isaac Newton, William Herschel, William Huggins, George Ellery Hale, Arthur Eddington, Harlow Shapley, and Edwin Hubble are all nicely profiled in this volume subtitled "The Astro-Physicists." In sprightly prose, often interlaced with quotes, Ian Glass weaves together these eight lives (warts and all) and their scientific careers.
William Huggins (1822-84), Liverpool-born, made his reputation as a painter of animals, partly following in the tradition of Stubbs (but without the anatomy work).
(A more powerful tool for categorizing nebulae was forged in August 1864 when English amateur William Huggins observed the spectrum of the planetary NGC 6543 in Draco and realized that its light originated from a tenuous gas rather than from a mass of unresolved stars.) Many of Herschel's planetaries turned out to be other types of objects, mostly galaxies, while some entries in his other classes were later shown to be planetaries.
After learning of Bunsen and Kirchhoff's work in 1862, self-taught amateur astronomer William Huggins, at Upper Tulse Hill outside London, set his sights--and a spectroscope --on the wider universe.
In 1864 English amateur astronomer William Huggins examined NGC 6543 with a spectroscope.
Kirchhoff detected sodium in the outer atmosphere of the Sun, and a mere three years after that British astronomer William Huggins used spectroscopy to determine that many of the same elements present on Earth also exist in the stars.