Google Doodle Celebrates Astronomer Caroline Herschel, 1st Woman to Find a Comet

Google honored the the 266th birthday of German astronomer Caroline Herschel with her own animated Google doodle on March 16, 2016.
Google honored the the 266th birthday of German astronomer Caroline Herschel with her own animated Google doodle on March 16, 2016. (Image credit: Google)

Google celebrated the legacy of famed German astronomer Caroline Herschel, the first woman ever to discover a comet, today (March 16) with an animated Google doodle gift for her 266th birthday. 

Born in Germany in 1750, Herschel was one of ten children and the sister of another famed astronomer William Herschel - who went on to discover the planet Uranus. Caroline and William would eventually work to catalogue star clusters and nebulas that led to the New General Catalogue that gave the NGC moniker to non-stellar objects. On Aug. 1, 1786, Caroline spotted a slowly moving object in the night sky, and tracked over subsequent nights, becoming the first woman ever to discover a comet. 

The folks behind Google's doodles lauded Herschel's astronomical discoveries in their blog post on her science legacy, which we've included below: 

Caroline Herschel discovered several comets and other celestial objects.

"Caroline Herschel was diminutive in stature--she stood only 4'3"—but her contributions to cosmological science were monumental.The late astronomer's parents presumed she would spend her life as a housemaid, but her considerable musical talent and formidable intellect intervened. With the help of her brother Isaac, Herschel left Germany in 1772 for Bath, England, where she took work as a soprano in the Royal Court."

"Her brother — also a skilled musician — started a small business making telescopes in his spare time, and the two took a deep interest in astronomy and observational cosmology. Herschel was a keen observer of the universe. She discovered hundreds of stars, eight comets (six of which still bear her name), and became the first female astronomer enlisted by the British monarchy. Today's Doodle by Juliana Chen celebrates Herschel's remarkable scientific achievements, which include the publication of Catalogue of Stars and a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. Today would have been her 266th birthday."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.