Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Lassell, William

  • John McFarlandEmail author
Reference work entry

BornMoor Lane, Bolton, (Greater Manchester), England, 18 June 1799

DiedMaidenhead, Berkshire, England, 5 October 1880

William Lassell constructed the first large equatorially mounted reflecting telescopes and proved both the viability and the utility of such large instruments. Using his large reflectors, Lassell discovered several satellites of the outer planets.

The son of Nathaniel Lassell, a timber merchant and Hannah (née Gregson) Lassell, William was raised in middle-class comfort in a distinctly commercial extended family. He began his education at an elementary school in Bolton and then, at the age of about nine, he entered an academy in Rochdale, Lancashire where Lassell remained for one and a half years. His father died in 1810 while he was still attending school. He started an apprenticeship as a commercial trader in 1814, and by about 1825 he had established himself as a partner in a Liverpool brewing business. Soon afterward, in 1827, he married Maria King of Toxteth.


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Selected References

  1. Andrews, A. D. (1994). “Cyclopaedia of Telescope Makers Part 3 (K-N).” Irish Astronomical Journal 21: 167–249. (For Lassell, see p. 183.)ADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Chapman, Allan (1988). “William Lassell (1799–1880): Practitioner, Patron and’Grand Amateur’ of Victorian Astronomy.” Vistas in Astronomy 32: 341–370.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Herschel, J. F. W. (1849). “Address delivered by the President (Sir J. F. W Herschel, Bart.) on presenting the Honorary Medal of the Society to William Lassell.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 9: 87–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Huggins, M. L. (1880). Obituary. Observatory 3: 587–590.ADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Huggins, William (1881). “William Lassell.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 41: 188–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. — (1881). “William Lassell, LL.D.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 31: vii-x.Google Scholar
  7. Lassell, W. (1842). “Description of an Observatory erected at Starfield, near Liverpool.” Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society 12: 265–272.ADSGoogle Scholar
  8. — (1874). “On Polishing the Specula of Reflecting Telescopes.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 23: 121–123.Google Scholar
  9. Smith, Robert W. and Richard Baum (1984). “William Lassell and the Ring of Neptune: A Case Study in Instrumental Failure.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 15: 1–17.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Armargh UniversityArmaghUK