Women Astronomers

Women Astronomers

his may not come as a surprise, women astronomers have made some amazing discoveries throughout history.  You may not have heard of some of the following, but their contributions are well worth further reading:

Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848) Caroline is perhaps the most well known of past female astronomers discoverer of several comets and became the world’s first professional astronomer and the first woman to become an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2014.02

Elizabeth Brown (1830 – 1899)     Elizabeth lived all of her life in Cirencester her achievements and contribution to encouraging women to the field of  astronomy are immeasurable.  Being refused membership to the Royal Astronomical Society because of her sex she became a founder member of the British Astronomical Society. https://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/368/Elizabeth-Brown

Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921) The discoverer of “Leavitt’s Law” by which astronomers can measure distances to remote galaxies. https://www.space.com/34708-henrietta-swan-leavitt-biography.html

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900 – 1979) proposed that stars including our Sun was made up of hydrogen and helium.  Cecilia was the first female professor at Harvard University. https://scientificwomen.net/women/payne-gaposchkin-cecilia-77

Vera Rubin (1928 – 2016)  Found the evidence that 90% of of the mass in the galaxies consists of invisible dark matter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Rubin

Meteorite Showers:

Quadrantid Meteor Showers peak on the 4th/5th January.  Could be ideal for viewing around midnight looking above the North Eastern horizon.

Mercury  Evening planet during January most visible during the first two weeks of the year in the South West at sunset.  Close to Venus on 1st January and then close to Saturn on 14th January.  Difficult to observe during February.

Venus  Can be observed close to Mercury in the South West at sunset on New Year’s Day and re-emerges towards the end of January as a brilliant morning star in the South East. Difficult to miss during February in the pre-dawn sky

Mars  Rises in the South West 2 hours before the Sun during January.  Brightens gradually over the weeks and will be observed beneath Venus towards the end of February.

Jupiter Best observed during the first half of the January evenings but losing its brightness by the end of February.

Saturn Located lower down and to the right of Jupiter during January around twilight time but will not be visible following the first few days of February.


Author: John Harris

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