What does the William Lassell Biography and beer have in common?

William Lassell

According to the William Lassell Biography, Lassell made his fortune as a beer brewer which enabled him to pursuit his passion in astronomy.

Life and Contributions

William Lassell was born on June 18, 1799 in Bolton, Lancaster, England. Not much of anything is known about Lassell’s personal life.

He was an amateur astronomer who used his fortunes to build an observatory near Liverpool, England. He built the 24 inch reflector telescope from items he had himself. Lassell even ground and polished the mirror with tools he owned. With this telescope, Lassell pioneered the use of an equatorial mount.

In 1846 Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. His discovery came just 17 days after Johann Gottfried Galle discovered Neptune. In 1848, he independently co-discovered Hyperion, a moon of Saturn. William Lassell went on to discover Ariel and Umbriel, two new moons of Uranus, in 1851.

In 1851 when Queen Victoria of England came to Liverpool, the only person she wanted to meet was William Lassell.

In 1855, William Lassell built a 48 inch reflector telescope which he installed in Malta, because he said the weather was clearer to observe the night skies. Using this telescope, Lassell went on to catalogue hundreds of new nebulae.

William Lassell died on October 18, 1880 leaving a fortune of 80,000 pounds (equal to millions of American dollars by today’s standards).


  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society- 1849
  • President of the Royal Astronomical Society – 1870-1872
  • Lassell crater – moon
  • Crater on Mars
  • A ring of Neptune

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