American astronomer Muriel Mussels Seyfert was born on February 3, 1909 in Danvers, Massachusetts. She was working at Harvard College Observatory in 1936 when she discovered three new ring nebulae in the Milky Way. A ring nebula is a planetary nebula, i.e., formed when a dying star is sloughing off its outer layers. She found the nebulae while examining photographic plates taken at Harvard's station at Bloemfontain in South Africa. This photograph of her was taken then.

Muriel was married to Carl Keenan Seyfert after whom the Seyfert galaxies and the Seyfert's Sextet were named. He was the first director of the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory. The Dyer Observatory, also known as the Arthur J. Dyer Observatory, is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Vanderbilt University in Tennesse.

While at Dyer, “Muriel continued astronomical research, raised two children, kept an active art studio in the observatory residence (which is now known as Muriel’s Retreat in her honor), and was a renowned equestrienne.”

[Source: Vanderbilt University]

Mona Evans
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