Published 4th November 2022

William Herschel Bi-Centenary: Southern Constellation of Apus

The British Antarctic Territory and Pobjoy Mint are delighted to announce the release of a brand new £2 coin series to commemorate 200 years since the death of British Astronomer Sir William Herschel. 

Sir William Frederick Herschel was a German-born British astronomer who emigrated from Germany to Great Britain at the age of 19. Herschel constructed the first large telescope in 1774, after which he spent nine years carrying out sky surveys to investigate double stars. While making observations, he made note of a new object which, after weeks of verification, was confirmed as a new planet which was given the name Uranus, after the Greek God of the sky. The discovery brought him overnight fame and he was appointed Court Astronomer and knighted by King George III and grants were provided for the construction of new telescopes. 

Herschel’s 40-foot telescope, also known as the Great Forty-Foot telescope, was a reflecting telescope constructed between 1785 and 1789 at Observatory House in Slough, England. It was the largest telescope in the world for 50 years and he used it to discover Enceladus and Mimas, the 6th and 7th moons of Saturn. 

In the British Antarctic Territory, the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee named Herschel Heights after the famous astronomer, with Enceladus Nunataks and Mimas peak also being named after the two satellites of Saturn, discovered by Herschel.  

To mark the bicentenary of Herschel’s death we are releasing a series of five coins each showing a constellation from the “Bayer Family”. This family of constellations are circumpolar which means that they are always fully visible from the British Antarctic Territory.  

The design features the Apus Constellation which is represented by a Bird of Paradise, the image of which is depicted on the design. The constellation itself is shown beneath the bird and a compass as it would read in Antarctica. Issued on behalf of the British Antarctic Territory the coin has been produced in Bi-metal and Proof Fine Silver with Goldclad®. The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II produced exclusively by Pobjoy Mint. 

You can order this coin now from Pobjoy Mint.