Filar micrometer by William Herschel, 1780-1800

1780-1800 in Slough, England and Maidenhead
William Herschel

Eye-piece micrometer inscribed E.6 in wood mount with brass frame divided circle (120 divisions numbered from 0 degree to 60 degrees) and steel screw, 2 threads in position

Dated 1780-1800, this eyepiece filar micrometer was made by the astronomer, William Herschel for the telescopes he used. In addition to building his own reflecting telescopes, Herschel made his own micrometers. This measuring instrument uses a set of fixed and moveable wires to determine angular distances in the eyepiece of the telescope. In operation, the calibrated handle was used to move the parallel wires delineating the object being measured. The distance was then calculated from the number turns of the handle that is attached to a fine threaded rod connected to the framework holding the moveable wires. Like Herschel's own eyepieces, the body of this instrument is made of cocoa, a tropical hardwood still used for woodwind instruments today.

On display

Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.


Object Number:
brass, steel, wood
filar micrometer
  • disciplines
  • disciplines
  • science
  • natural sciences
  • physical sciences
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
  • micrometer - angle
Mr John Herschel-Shorland

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.