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Sir William Huggins

Huggins, Sir William, 1824–1910, English astronomer. Using a spectroscope, he began to study the chemical constitution of stars from the observatory attached to his home in Tulse Hill, London. He proved that while some nebulae are clusters of stars, others are uniformly gaseous (see nebula). Huggins pioneered in spectroscopic photography and played a part in developing the combined use of the telescope, spectroscope, and photographic negative. He adapted the gelatin dry-plate negative for making astronomical photographs; this made possible exposures of any desired length. In 1866, Huggins made the first spectroscopic observations of a nova. He applied the Doppler effect to the measurement of stellar motions in the line of sight. Huggins was president (1900–1906) of the Royal Society. With his wife, Margaret Lindsay Murray, Lady Huggins, he prepared an Atlas of Representative Stellar Spectra (1899).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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