William Herschel, the First Observational Cosmologist
In the late 1700s, a composer, orchestra director and soloist named William Herschel became fascinated with astronomy, and, having built his own reflecting telescope, went out in his garden in Bath, England, one night and discovered Uranus—the first planet in human history ever found by an individual. The feat earned him a lifetime pension from King George III. But Herschel considered the discovery to be relatively unimportant in comparison to his real work: understanding the composition, structure and evolution of the universe. In pursuing that work, he became the first observational cosmologist.