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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.