Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750 – 9 January 1848) was a German astronomer, whose most significant contributions to astronomy were the discoveries of several comets, including the periodic comet 35P/Herschel–Rigollet, which bears her name. She was the younger sister of astronomer William Herschel, with whom she worked throughout her career.
She was the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist. She was the first woman in England to hold a government position. She was the first woman to publish scientific findings in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835, with Mary Somerville). She was also named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy (1838). The King of Prussia presented her with a Gold Medal for Science on the occasion of her 96th birthday (1846).
At the online 2020 Festival of Saints, the Council of the Stewards of Solseed unanimously elevated Caroline Herschel to Servant of Gaia.
In his sponsorship justification for her elevation Eric noted the following:
- She was an astronomer in the late 18th to early 19th century. She was the first woman to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, which wouldn't award it to another woman until 1996.
- She created the New General Catalogue, which was among the first astronomical catalogues, containing 2500 objects, including nebulae and galaxies (which were also thought to be nebulae at the time). It is still used today to identify nebulae.
- She is also renowned for having identified many periodic comets. Because cometlike objects have the majority of the surface area in the Solar System that could be colonized by life, the discovery and understanding of comets is crucial to the Great Birthing.
- She paved the way for female astronomers, contributing to the reversal of the millennia-long trend of ignoring the possible intellectual contributions of half the human race.