King's College London
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Professor Sir Charles Wheatstone

Wide scientific interests

Charles Wheatstone [1870]Charles Wheatstone [1870]Three areas in which Sir Charles Wheatstone's contributions are still remembered after more than a century and a half are:

  • (1) acoustics - musical instruments,
  • (2) electricity - especially, the telegraph
  • (3) optics - perhaps best represented by his work on the stereoscope.

Wheatstone's interests ranged very widely, however.

Evidence of his fascination with astronomy is provided by notes describing what may have been the sighting of a lunal halo:

Wheatstone's notes - a lunar phenomenon on 18 Nov 1850Wheatstone's notes - a lunar phenomenon on 18 Nov 1850Sunday Nov[ember] 18th 1850

From ½ past 7 to 8 o’clock I saw the following remarkable phenomenon.
A large circle appeared round the moon (which was exactly in its center) about 60° in diameter. It appeared like a concave shield with the moon as a boss in its center. This circle was much darker than the rest of the sky and the limit of its circumference was strongly marked. The contrast was very violent and struck me with astonis[h]ment, appearing like the great disc of a solar microscope. Stars were seen within this circle but I do not remember whether they were in the white part. When watching this great circle appeared to move with the moon. After 8 the effect was greatly diminished. This perhaps is an ordinary phenomenon but perhaps it seldom occurs so strongly marked.

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