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Women in Astronomy

Historical Bibliography

Women in Astronomy Page Women Scientists have studied and discovered throughout history. Many have done their work behind the scenes with little or no credit for their dedication and expertise. Read about One Woman in Astronomy or research some Prominent Women in Astronomy. When you are ready, click back to return to the Space Center.


One Woman in Astronomy

Misty Bentz Observational Extragalactic Astronomy
After finishing up her degree at the University of Washington, Misty Bentz is planning to continue with post-graduate studies and then research galaxies. When she was just starting a career in astronomy, Kid's Cosmos asked her a few questions about her interest in science. You could become a scientist and discover new things, too!

1. What got you interested in astronomy?

"I became interested in astronomy in third grade when my teacher first introduced us to astronomy. We were supposed to go home and draw the phase of the moon that night and find the north star, and we learned about the planets and made travel brochures to encourage people to vacation at different places in the solar system. My brochure advertised a ski lodge on Pluto. I thought astronomy was just the greatest thing ever, and I've never stopped believing that."

2. What courses would be helpful for students to take to prepare them for a career in astronomy?

"All science classes are good to take, whether they are directly involved in astronomy or not. Science classes in general teach you how to think in a logical and sequential manner and how to build complicated concepts on top of fundamental theories or facts. Math classes are also a must. The language of astronomy is math, and it is important to have a good handle on math so that you can understand information that is presented in mathematical terms. Once you reach college level classes, a major in physics (and astronomy if the school offers it) as well as classes in math and computer programming is the best way to prepare for a career in astronomy."

3. What topic in astronomy are you going to specialize in?

"I will be specializing in observational extragalactic astronomy. I love spending time at telescopes and I also love studying objects that are far away outside our own galaxy, the Milky Way, so this is the perfect combination for me."

4. What would you say to girls to encourage them to study astronomy and related sciences?

"Never be afraid to follow your dreams, no matter what you may be up against. You should never let the fact that there are more men in scientific fields ever slow you down or stop you. It is a love of science that creates a good scientist, and not a particular gender. Right now is a great time for women to be in science, because we are at the beginning of a time when women are treated as scientific equals. If you have the desire to do or be something, go for it, because that is the only thing that matters."

Prominent Women in Astronomy

The partial list below gives the names and eras of some prominent women in astronomy. Some found methods to calculate the distances to stars, studied photographic images for long hours looking for clues to the mysteries of the universe, or found comets and a number of other interesting objects.
Pick a name and research her life and contribution to astronomy and science.

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Scientist Date or Era Scientist Date or Era
Brahe, Sophia (16th century) Huggins, Margaret Murray (1848-1916)
Burbidge, Margaret (1919- ) Kirch, Maria Margarethe (1670-1720)
Cannon, Annie Jump (1863-1941) Lepaute, MME. Nichole-Reine (1723-1788)
Crocker, Deborah (1957- ) Leavitt, Henrietta Swan (1868-1921)
Cunitz, Marie (1610-1664) Mitchell, Maria (1818-1889)
Dumee, Jeanne (18th century) Pierry, MME. du, Louise (18th century)
En Hedu'Anna (circa 2354 BCE) Sabliere (18th century)
Fleming, Williamina (1857-1911) Somerville, Mary (1780-1872)
Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecelia (1900-1978) Sonduk (c. 630 BCE)
Herschel, Caroline Lucretia (1750-1848) Taylor, Janet (18th century)
Howard, Sethanne (1944- ) Whiting, Sarah F. (1846-1927)

Other Links

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University of Alabama's 4000 Women in Science Astronomy Page
Click here to read about  The Women of NASA
Link to the Association of Women in Science Home Page
A UCLA list of Women in Physics
A University of Toronto list of Women in Astronomy and Science

Kids' Cosmos… Expanding Minds Beyond the Limits of the Universe

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