The first women astronomers

I have never been one of these scientists that see themselves as women scientists rather than scientists. Similarly, I am not usually looking at women scientists’ lives because they are women, but because they are scientists. Some would disagree with me on that point, but this is an issue for a whole different post.Nevertheless, these women, the first modern day women astronomers, caught my interest while reading a popular physics book. Maybe this was because up to that point I kept reading only about men, so when I read about a woman, I paid extra attention. I know this is not directly related to the theme of this blog, but I thought I should write something, just in case you do not know about them.

Women entered astronomy – a mostly forbidden field up to then – thanks toone man and one woman. The man was Edward Charles Pickering who became director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1877. The woman was  Anna Mary Palmer, the wife of Henry Draper whose intention was to photograph the entire night sky. Henry Draper did not manage to do so before he died, so his wife donated money to the Harvard College Observatory after his death. Continue reading