August 1, 2013 10:57 am
Today would have been Maria Mitchell’s 195th birthday, and if she were still around, she’d probably celebrate it by looking at the stars. Mitchell was America’s first female professional astronomer. She discovered a comet in 1847 while sitting on the roof of the bank where her father worked, and in 1865 became a professor of astronomy at Vassar College. She also cofounded the American Association for the Advancement of Women and was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has a moon crater and a World War II Liberty Ship named after her, as well as an observatory in Nantucket.
The Maria Mitchell Association honors her legacy by providing hands on learning experiences for people in the Massachusetts area. They’ll be celebrating her 195th birthday in Nantucket, with games and activities dedicated to Mitchell.
Honoring Mitchell with a Google Doodle is part of Google’s push to feature women atop their search bar. They’ve recently profiled Rosalind Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Mirian “Mama Africa” Makeba.
Mitchell would likely appreciate the artistic rendering of herself perched atop a building looking at the stars. She once said, “We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.”
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