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Astro Women - Birthdays #932908 08/01/20 09:46 AM
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Maria Mitchell was a true pioneer woman. She didn't brave a physical wilderness. Hers was the harder job of pioneering higher education for women. She was the first American woman to discover a comet, the first to be elected to scientific societies and the first woman professor of astronomy.

Maria Mitchell

In her own words, America's first woman professor of astronomy tells of her meetings with the great and good of the nineteenth century. Maria Mitchell's (1818-1889) sister Phebe collected excerpts from journals and letters to present a pot pourri of Maria's life, ideas and work.

Maria Mitchell - in Her Own Words



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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #932935 08/08/20 07:30 PM
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Svetlana Savitskaya was born on August 8, 1948. She was a Soviet aviator who set several FAI world records as a pilot. (FAI is the Fédération aéronautique internationale - in English, the World aeronautical federation.) As a cosmonaut, she was the second woman in space, the first woman to carry out a spacewalk, and the first woman to fly into space twice.



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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #932945 08/12/20 08:56 AM
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On August 12, 1919, Anglo-American astrophysicist Margaret Burbridge (nee Peachey) was born in Cheshire, England.

Margalit Fox's obituary in the New York Times:
Quote
She was considered one of the foremost astronomers in the world, long regarded as a trailblazer for women in the field.

Dr. Burbidge was the first woman to serve as director of the Royal Observatory, the storied British institution. She was also a contributor to the design of instruments carried aboard the Hubble Space Telescope and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, bestowed in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.

“She has a huge imprint on the history of modern astronomy and cosmology and nuclear astrophysics,” George Fuller, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, where Dr. Burbidge taught for many years.

Burbridge made notable contributions to the theory of quasars, to measurements of the rotation and masses of galaxies, and was the lead author on a groundbreaking paper describing how chemical elements are formed in the depths of stars through nuclear fusion. She was the first woman to be president of the American Astronomical Society.



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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #932979 08/20/20 05:54 AM
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Margaret Hamilton – computer scientist and systems engineer – was born on August 17, 1936.

She was NASA's lead developer for Apollo flight software. This was way back in the 1960s when software development was in its infancy. She was a pioneer in the field and invented <i>software engineering</i> as an engineering discipline. The Apollo software was so successful, it was adapted for Skylab and the Space Shuttle.

She said about the Apollo software, “There was no second chance. We all knew that.”


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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933003 08/26/20 04:09 AM
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Sarah Frances Whiting was an American physicist and astronomer, born August 23,1847.

She was appointed by Wellesley College in Boston, Massachusetts as its first professor of physics in 1876. Invited to attend lectures given by Edward Pickering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was inspired to start teaching a course on Practical Astronomy at Wellesley. She taught several astronomers including Annie Jump Cannon. Whiting helped with the establishment of the Whitin Observatory, of which she was the first director. The observatory is still in use at Wellesley College.


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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933069 09/12/20 03:40 PM
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Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson was born on August 26, 1918. She was an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were important for the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. Her life featured in Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures, which was also - somewhat loosely - made into a movie.

These days there are computers to help out with complex calculations. But we have to remember that Johnson did all of it by hand. NASA was only just beginning to use computers. (Margaret Hamilton's pioneering work in software engineering didn't come until the Apollo program.)

Johnson died earlier this year, aged 101. I saw a delightful little mathematical tribute to her passing: She died in her prime.


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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933116 09/23/20 06:57 AM
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Sophia Brahe was born September 22, 1556 at Knudstrup, Sweden (which was at the time was still Danish). She was the younger sister of Tycho Brahe. Coming from a noble family, both were ostracized for their scientific pursuits which were deemed inappropriate, especially for a noblewomen.

Sophia was a horticulturalist, but also educated in classical literature and chemistry. She was self-educated in astronomy, and frequently assisted her brother with his astronomical observations at his observatory Uraniborg. On one occasion she helped with the observations Tycho used to compute the total lunar eclipse of 8 December 1573.


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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933228 10/18/20 11:11 AM
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Mae Jemison, born on October 17, 1956 is an extraordinarily talented woman.

As a NASA astronaut, she was the first African American woman in space. Before her time with NASA she had entered Stanford University at the age of 16 and four years later had degrees both in chemical engineering and African American studies. Jemison then went to Cornell University to complete a medical degree, following it up with some time as a general practitioner and then a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa.

After leaving NASA, among her other accomplishments, she was for several years a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth Collge and the director of the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. She continues to advocate science education and encourage minority students.

Jemison is also a trained dancer and in this video The Cosmic Dance she explains why she thinks dance was helpful for her as an astronaut.






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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933272 10/26/20 11:06 PM
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Henrietta Hill Swope was born on October 26, 1902 in St Louis, Missouri, USA. She got her master's degree in astronomy while working with Harlow Shapley, the director of the Harvard College Observatory.

Swopes's most important work was on variable stars, in particular Cepheid variables. Careful measurements of the variability of these stars made it possible to determine their distance. (This understanding was based on the work of Henrietta Leavitt who had previously worked at the Harvard College Observatory.)

In 1952, Swope went to California to work with Walter Baade on the variable stars detected by the new 200-inch Hale Telescope at Mount Palomar. It was owned by the Carnegie Institution. The largest telescope in the world (at that time) made it possible to use variable stars in other galaxies to determine their distances. She spent the rest of her career working there.

Retirement didn't end her contributions to astronomy. She had family money, and donated a large sum to the Carnegie Institution to develop optical astronomy facilities in the southern hemisphere. The Swope Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile is still in use. When she died, she left most of her estate to support Las Campanas.


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Re: Astro Women - Birthdays [Re: Mona - Astronomy] #933397 11/19/20 03:46 PM
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Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle and the first to command a shuttle, was born on November 19, 1956.

In addition to being an Air Force test pilot and flight instructor, she has degrees from four different universities. This includes two masters degrees, one in operations research and one in space systems management. Collins was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1990. She flew four shuttle missions, including one that involved a docking with Russia's Mir space station.




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