Book captures sketches of noted astronomer

09 May 2007 | Story by Helen Swingler

Emeritus Professor Brian Warner's new book is a companion to Flora Herscheliana in that it adds the landscape drawings of Sir John Herschel to the water colours of Cape flowers previously published.

This week sees the launch of Cape Landscapes: Sir John Herschel's Sketches 1834 '“ 1838, by Emeritus Professor Brian Warner (astronomy), published by UCT Press, an imprint of Juta and Company.

This work is Warner's fourth publication on the Herschel family. The first was Maclear & Herschel: Letters & diaries at the Cape of Good Hope, 1834-1938 published in 1984, followed by Lady Herschel: Letters from the Cape, 1834-1838 in 1991, and Flora Herscheliana, co-authored with John Rourke, in 1998.

Herschel travelled from England to the Cape of Good Hope between 1834 and 1838 to catalogue the stars of the southern hemisphere. His father, the eminent astronomer Sir William Herschel, had done a similar exercise for the northern skies.

Herschel was also an accomplished artist. He used an optical device known as camera lucida to produce more than 100 sketches depicting South African landscapes.

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