Astronomy Learning and Research / Beginning Astronomy / History

Women in Astronomy


Maria MitchellTo celebrate Women’s History month I’d like to share a little about my favorite historical woman in astronomy,  Maria Mitchell.  Maria (pronounced with a long i) was born in 1818 and grew up on the island of Nantucket. There she studied the stars with her father. As a young girl, Maria learned to navigate by the stars and was able to fine tune marine chronometers.

In 1947 she became famous as a ‘comet sweeper’, discovering what came to be known as ‘Miss Mitchell’s Comet’ for which she was awarded a gold medal from the king of Denmark.

Maria said “In my younger days when I was pained by half educated, loose, and inaccurate ways which we all had, I used to say, ‘How much women need exact science.’ But since I have known some workers in science who were not always true to the teachings of nature, who have loved self more than science, I have said, ‘How much science needs women!”

She truly was a women before her time!

Maria went on to be a champion for women, protested against slavery and co-founded the American Association for the Advancement of Women.  Please visit to learn more about this amazing woman!


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