Woman Astronomers Day 2023: Woman Astronomers Day is annually observed on August 1. This holiday recognises the long-overlooked accomplishments of women in the sciences. The accomplishments of female astronomers are even more remarkable when one considers that they were denied access to formal education and practised astronomy as a leisure. The most well-known is Maria Mitchell, who gained notoriety not only for her achievements in astronomy but also for her commitment to advancing women’s education. This holiday honours her accomplishments and highlights the significance of recognising women’s scientific contributions.
DAY OF THE HISTORY OF WOMAN ASTRONOMERS
Women’s scientific achievements have long gone unrecognised. This day highlights the numerous discoveries made by female astronomers, particularly those of Maria Mitchell. In 1818, Maria Mitchell was born. Her mother was a librarian and her father was an astronomy-interested educator. While women’s education had little to no value at the time, the Mitchells, like other Quakers, valued education and taught their sons and daughters equally. Maria attended school and developed novel teaching techniques as a teaching assistant. She worked as a librarian and assisted her father with astronomical observations for the U.S. Coast Survey for the majority of her life.
Mitchell discovered Comet 1847 VI in 1847, which she reported in Silliman’s Journal. It was subsequently dubbed “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.” King Frederick VI of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery in the same year. She is the first American and first woman to obtain this honour. Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College, designated her as the first female astronomy professor in 1865, despite the fact that she lacked a college degree. The most well-known female astronomer is Maria Mitchell, but she is not the only notable one. Mitchell’s early interest in astronomy was nurtured by her upbringing in the Quaker faith. It is also essential to consider those who initially received little encouragement. Edward Pickering, a renowned astronomer, employed Williamina Fleming, his maid, to assist him with data analysis. She joined Harvard Computers, a team of women who processed astronomical data, and became a pioneer. Fleming went on to make numerous scientific discoveries, including the ‘Horsehead Nebula’ discovery in 1888. Additionally, Pickering and Fleming developed the ‘Pickering Fleming’ system, which aided in the classification of stars based on their temperatures.
Five INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ASTRONOMERY
- It is estimated that the solar system is approximately 4.5 billion years old.
- The diameter of the greatest asteroid in the solar system, Ceres, is 584 miles.
- Since light travels at 300,000 kilometres per second and one light-year is approximately 55.6 trillion miles, we see celestial objects in the past when we observe them.
- Only 5% of the universe consists of galaxies and celestial entities, while the remaining 95% consists of dark matter and unseen dark energy.
- Some galaxies, such as the Milky Way, Sculptor Galaxy, Centaurus A, and Andromeda Galaxy, are visible to the unaided eye.
WHY WOMAN ASTRONOMERS DAY IS VITAL
Maria Mitchell and her colleagues female astronomers are not as well-known as they should be. She is not the only unrecognised woman in the field of science. This day sheds light on other significant women in astronomy, such as Caroline Herschel, who discovered the first comet.
Many previous female astronomers could not have made their discoveries without the assistance of their fathers, siblings, or husbands. Imagine what these women could have accomplished if they had received a formal education. They were required to work ten times harder with minimal recognition.
Understanding how women’s contributions to science went unnoticed encourages young females to pursue careers in science and advocate for themselves.