female astronomers


Vera Rubin, the woman who discovered the first evidence of dark matter, has died at 88

  • Vera Rubin, the astrophysicist responsible for confirming the first existence of dark matter, died on Sunday night at the age of 88.
  • Carnegie Institution president Matthew Scott called Rubin “a national treasure as an accomplished astronomer and a wonderful role model for young scientist.”
  • Rubin and her colleagues observed galaxies in the 1970s, they learned the motion of stars is a result of a “material that does not emit light and extends beyond the optical galaxy” — also known as dark matter.
  • Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky proposed the idea of dark matter in 1933, but Rubin’s groundbreaking work subsequently led to the confirmation of the material.
  • This finding is what led to the discovery that 90% of the universe is made up of dark matter, a finding some colleagues felt was overlooked and deserving of a Nobel Prize. Read more

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der Astronaut (Astronauten) - astronaut
die Astronautin (Astronautinnen) - astronaut [female]
der Astronom (Astronomen) - astronomer
die Astronomin (Astronominnen) - astronomer [female]
die Atmosphäre (Atmosphären) - atmosphere
der/die Außerirdische [adj] - alien
die Entdeckung (Entdeckungen) - discovery
die Erde (Erden) - Earth
das Leben - life
die Lebenszone - habitable zone
der Mond (Monde) - moon
das Observatorium (Observatorien) - observatory
der Planet (-en) (Planeten) - planet
die Rakete (Raketen) - rocket
das Raumschiff (Raumschiffe) - spaceship
die Sonne (Sonnen) - sun
der Stern (Sterne) - star
das Sternchen - small star
das Sternsystem (Sternsysteme) - solar system
die Sternwarte (Sternwarten) - observatory
das Teleskop (Teleskope) - telescope
die Umlaufbahn (Umlaufbahnen) - orbit
das Universum (Universen) - universe
das Weltall - space
der Weltraum - space
der Wissenschaftler - scientist
die Wissenschaftlerin (Wissenschaftlerinnen) - scientist [female]

translated from this post by @malteseboy

via the National Women’s History Museum:

Maria Mitchell was America’s first professional female astronomer. On October 1, 1847, at age 29, she discovered a comet, becoming the first American to do so. For her achievements, in 1848 Mitchell became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1850. Then in 1865 she became a professor of astronomy at Vassar College. Learn more about women’s involvement in STEM fields in this online exhibit: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/breaking-in-women-in-science-technology-engineering-mathematics/NAKCO5S1I8MMIQ. (Photo Credit: Maria Mitchell Association)

Caroline Herschel’s 266th Birthday

“Caroline Herschel was diminutive in stature–she stood only 4’3”—but her contributions to cosmological science were monumental. The late astronomer’s parents presumed she would spend her life as a housemaid, but her considerable musical talent and formidable intellect intervened. With the help of her brother Isaac, Herschel left Germany in 1772 for Bath, England, where she took work as a soprano in the Royal Court. Her brother—also a skilled musician—started a small business making telescopes in his spare time, and the two took a deep interest in astronomy and observational cosmology.

Herschel was a keen observer of the universe. She discovered hundreds of stars, eight comets (six of which still bear her name), and became the first female astronomer enlisted by the British monarchy. Today’s Doodle by Juliana Chen celebrates Herschel’s remarkable scientific achievements, which include the publication of Catalogue of Stars and a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. Today would have been her 266th birthday.”

Today’s Illustrated Women in History is a written submission by James Purvis.

Caroline Herschel 1750 - 1848

Caroline Herschel was an astronomer and singer, and was the first woman to be paid for her contribution to science.

At the age of 22 Herschel, who had received training in music against the wishes of her mother, left her home in Hanover to join her brother William, who had established himself as an Organist in Bath, England. Herschel soon distinguished herself by becoming the principal singer in her brother’s Oratorio concerts, and received offers to perform across the country.

Alongside his musical career, William Herschel’s interest in astronomy grew, and with the assistance of Herschel he was eventually offered the position of court astronomer to King George III. At this time, Herschel chose to leave her singing career and become her brother’s scientific assistant, although some of her later writings suggest that this was perhaps not an easy decision.

Her skill as an astronomer was formidable, and in her obituary, the Royal Astronomical Society praised her ‘indefatigable zeal, diligence and singular accuracy of calculation’ as being significant contributors to her brother’s astronomical success. Herschel was awarded a salary by the court as an assistant astronomer, becoming the first woman to be paid as a scientist.

Her work included the grinding of mirrors for reflecting telescopes, taking observations of stretches of the sky, and detailing the precise timings and positions of the observed astronomical objects, as well as a great deal of calculation in order to translate these times and positions into usable data.

Between the assistance that she rendered to her brother’s work, Herschel found time for her own research, discovering a number of comets, as well as previously unobserved nebulae and star clusters, and compiling catalogues of the stars.

Herschel was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was later made an honorary member. Today, she is commemorated by a crater on the moon which is named after her.

If you would like to submit a biography of a woman in history to be illustrated and featured, please send me a message!

In Ugh, C’mon, News: Male astronomer touts female scientists’ unique abilities as nurturers 

I believe a woman scientist is not just another scientist. Women have a special natural gift for caring and educating—and I underline the [etymology] of the word: e-duco, I pull out the best of someone—therefore a woman who is also an astronomer can have a greater impact on the society than a simple scientist.

Rachael Livermore, a postdoctoral fellow in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, is not amused.

“It completely misses the point that we should be striving for equality because excluding huge swaths of people for arbitrary reasons is bad for science as well as being unfair to those excluded,” she said, “not because the excluded groups have some sort of special magical skill to offer.“