Women in Astronomy: Henrietta Swan Leavitt

How big is everything? How much everything even is there? We have answers to these questions because of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, one of my favorite astronomers. Leavitt passed away on this day, December 12, in 1921, a too-young 53, taken by stomach cancer.

Leavitt was one of the computers at the Harvard College Observatory. Before adopting the name to describe machines that crunch numbers, computers were low-level staff, often women, who did the complicated [Continue reading]

Women in Astronomy: Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin

I’ve been reading a lot of astronomy lately and it’s striking how many major advances in our understanding of the universe have been made by women – women whose contributions often go unsung. Since women’s history is basically what I do, I thought I’d take a few minutes now and again to highlight some of these women and what they accomplished.

Today (Dec 7) in 1979. Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin passed away. Born and raised in [Continue reading]