Women Astronomers in History
Hypatia of Alexandria is the first known woman astronomer, and was also a mathematician and inventor, as well as a philosopher. She was born during the late fourth century. She was educated by her father, who was also a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. She wrote books on mathematics and astronomy.
Caroline Herschel was born in England in 1750 and was the first woman to discover a comet. She also discovered several nebulae. Her discoveries led the King to award her an annual stipend of 50 Pounds, making her the first woman in England to be a paid civil servant.
Maria Mitchell was born in 1889 and was the first professional American astronomer. She became a professor of astronomy at Vassar College.
Williamina Fleming was born in 1857 and worked at Harvard Observatory. She created a system used to classify the frequencies of light (spectral analysis) from stars. She also discovered 59 nebulae and 10 novas.
Annie Jump Cannon was born in 1863 and also worked at the Harvard Observatory. She improved on the spectral analysis system developed by Fleming making it much more detailed; we still use the system she devised. She also created a catalog of more than 300,000 variable stars that is still in use today.
Henrietta Leavitt, born in 1868 worked at Harvard as well. She devised a system that enabled astronomers to determine how far away certain stars (Cepheid Variables) are as well as how far away the galaxies are that those stars are in. She in effect provided the ground work on Cepheid variable stars that Edwin Hubble used to determine the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy, which greatly expanded our perception of how big our Universe really is.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was born in 1900. She worked at Harvard and discovered a relationship between a star’s temperature and its light spectrum. She was the first woman given the Chair in Astronomy position at Harvard University
Vera Rubin, born in 1928, challenged many accepted theories in astronomy and disproved some of them, changing forever the way we perceive our Universe. She originated the theories on dark matter in the Universe.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars while completing her doctoral thesis in radio astronomy at Cambridge University. She was born in 1943. http://www.brighthub.com/science/space/articles/8937.aspx