For the past couple of weeks, I have been consumed by the hysteria surrounding the AP Physics exam. Studying, studying, and studying some more became my life, to the point that blogging was nearly impossible. For weeks, I put aside the life I enjoy within Tumblr’s science community. I can finally, finally, say that “I’m baaaaaack!” Send in any topics you would like me to write about, or any videos you would like me to feature on this blog!
I would like to apologize for not posting in a little while. I have been bombarded with physics homework and prep for my AP exams. One more week and I will be sane once more. (And posting regularly)
Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
Maria Mitchell, the first recognized female astronomer and college professor, was born into a large Quaker family on August 1, 1818. The Mitchell family stressed the importance of education to their children, including the girls.
Maria’s father was a schoolteacher with a passion for astronomy. The family owned a 2-inch reflecting telescope, with which Maria and her siblings assisted their father with various observations.
On the night of October 1, 1847, Miss Mitchell peered into her telescope and caught sight of a comet. Now, at the time, identifying new comets was considered a very prestigious achievement. It was in fact rewarded with a medal from King Frederick VI of Denmark. So, when Maria Mitchell discovered this new celestial body, she was instantly awarded with international notoriety and a plethora of honors.
Maria Mitchell became the first woman elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science as well. The comet for which her initial success was attributed was named, “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.”
Throughout her career, Mitchell observed sunspots, comets, nubulae, solar eclipses, and countless other astronomical bodies. She went on to become a professor at Vassar College, thus making her the first woman teaching astronomy at the collegiate level.
Maria Mitchell passed away in 1889 from a brain disease. There is a crater on the moon in her name.
Although unfamiliar to most in the modern day, Mitchell was highly respected amongst her contemporaries. She is a noteworthy woman in STEM, an inspiration to the young ladies of today.
“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.”
“I would as soon put a girl alone into a closet to meditate as give her only the society of her needle.”