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English astronomer and scholar Mary Acworth Evershed, née Orr, was born at Plymouth Hoe, Devon, England on January 1, 1867.

The Orr family moved to Australia in 1890. Mary had developed an early interest in astronomy, and when she discovered that there was no useful guide available to the southern stars, she prepared An Easy Guide to the Southern Stars with the encouragement of the leading Australian astronomer John Tebbutt (who also wrote a short preface to the book).

The Orr family moved back to England in 1895, and in 1896 Mary met British fellow astronomer John Evershed during an eclipse expedition to Norway. The couple married in 1906, and in the same year John was offered a post as assistant astronomer at Kodaikanal Observatory in India. He accepted the position and John and Mary moved to India in 1907. An active solar observer, Evershed travelled to numerous solar eclipses, including Norway in 1896, Algiers in 1900, Western Australia in 1922, the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1927 and Greece/Aegean Sea in 1936. She was a member of the British Astronomical Association from 1895 and directed the BAA Historical Section from 1930 to 1944.

Mary Evershed was also a distinguished scholar who wrote not only on astronomical topics, but also on Dante. Her 1914 book Dante and the Early Astronomers helped clarify Dante's science, as accurate as it could be given existing knowledge.

Credit: the Society for the History of Astronomy


Mona Evans
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