Mary Watson Whitney
Mary Watson Whitney
|Born||September 11, 1847|
|Died||January 21, 1921 73) (aged|
Mary Watson Whitney (September 11, 1847 – January 20, 1921) was an American astronomer and for 22 years the head of the Vassar Observatory where 102 scientific papers were published under her guidance.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.
An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of Earth. They observe astronomical objects such as stars, planets, moons, comets, and galaxies – in either observational or theoretical astronomy. Examples of topics or fields astronomers study include planetary science, solar astronomy, the origin or evolution of stars, or the formation of galaxies. Related but distinct subjects like physical cosmology, which studies the Universe as a whole.
Whitney was born on September 11, 1847, in Waltham, Massachusetts. Her mother was Mary Watson Crehore and her father was Samuel Buttrick Whitney.Her father was successful in real estate and wealthy enough to provide her with a good education for a woman at the time. She went to school in Waltham where she excelled in mathematics and graduated from the public high school in 1863. She was privately tutored for one year before she entered Vassar College in 1865, where she met the astronomer Maria Mitchell. During her time at Vassar College, her father died and her brother was lost at sea. She obtained her degree in 1868.
Waltham is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, and was an early center for the labor movement as well as a major contributor to the American Industrial Revolution. The original home of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the city was a prototype for 19th century industrial city planning, spawning what became known as the Waltham-Lowell system of labor and production. The city is now a center for research and higher education, home to Brandeis University and Bentley University. The population was 60,636 at the census in 2010.
Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of the population of Massachusetts lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
Vassar College is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1861 by Matthew Vassar, it was the second degree-granting institution of higher education for women in the United States, closely following Elmira College. It became coeducational in 1969, and now has a gender ratio at the national average. The school is one of the historic Seven Sisters, the first elite women's colleges in the U.S., and has a historic relationship with Yale University, who suggested a merger before they both became coeducational institutions.
In the years 1869 to 1870 she took some courses about quaternions and celestial mechanics by Benjamin Peirce (at Harvard). At the time, women could not be admitted to Harvard so she attended as a guest.She obtained her master's degree from Vassar in 1872, afterwards she went to Zürich for 3 years where she studied mathematics and celestial mechanics.
Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the motions of objects in outer space. Historically, celestial mechanics applies principles of physics to astronomical objects, such as stars and planets, to produce ephemeris data.
Benjamin Peirce (;) FRSFor HFRSE April 4, 1809 – October 6, 1880) was an American mathematician who taught at Harvard University for approximately 50 years. He made contributions to celestial mechanics, statistics, number theory, algebra, and the philosophy of mathematics.
Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. The municipality has approximately 409,000 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million and the Zürich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Returning to the US she became a teacher at her hometown high school until she became an assistant of Maria Mitchell in Vassar. In 1888 upon the retirement of Mitchell she became a professor and the director of the observatory there until she retired in 1915 for health reasons.
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geophysical, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed. Historically, observatories were as simple as containing an astronomical sextant or Stonehenge.
During her career she concentrated on teaching and research related to double stars, variable stars, asteroids, comets, and measurements by photographic plates. Under her direction, 102 articles were published at the Vassar Observatory. In 1889 her mother and sister both became ill and Whitney moved them to the Observatory where she could care for them and continue her work part-time. When they died two years later, she resumed full-time work.Whitney was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a charter member of the Astronomical and Astrophysical Society.
In observational astronomy, a double star or visual double is a pair of stars that appear close to each other as viewed from Earth, especially with the aid of optical telescopes.
A variable star is a star whose brightness as seen from Earth fluctuates.
Asteroids are minor planets, especially of the inner Solar System. Larger asteroids have also been called planetoids. These terms have historically been applied to any astronomical object orbiting the Sun that did not resemble a planet-like disc and was not observed to have characteristics of an active comet such as a tail. As minor planets in the outer Solar System were discovered they were typically found to have volatile-rich surfaces similar to comets. As a result, they were often distinguished from objects found in the main asteroid belt. In this article, the term "asteroid" refers to the minor planets of the inner Solar System including those co-orbital with Jupiter.
Mary Whitney also believed that science provided strong career opportunities for women. She hoped women would soon become more active in practical chemistry, architecture, dentistry, and agriculture, which were more lucrative and, to Whitney, women were particularly well suited to. However, she also believed that scientific training would prepare them to be good mothers, falling into more traditional tropes of the early 20th century.
Mary Whitney died in Waltham on January 20, 1921, of pneumonia.
Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer, who in 1847 by using a telescope, discovered a comet, which as a result became known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won a gold medal prize for her discovery, which was presented to her by King Christian VIII of Denmark. On the medal was inscribed "Non Frustra Signorum Obitus Speculamur et Ortus" in Latin (taken from Georgics by Virgil. Mitchell was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.
Antonia Maury was an American astronomer who published an important early catalog of stellar spectra. Maury was part of the Harvard Computers, a group of female astronomers and Human Computers at the Harvard College Observatory. Winner of the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy in 1943.
The Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, was founded in 1908 and named in honor of Maria Mitchell, the first American woman astronomer. It is a major component of the Maria Mitchell Association. The Observatory actually consists of two observatories - the main Maria Mitchell Observatory near downtown Nantucket and the Loines Observatory about a kilometer west of town. It is also the repository for a valuable collection of over 8000 wide-field glass photographic plates, recording observations of large swaths of sky from 1913 to 1995.
The Vassar College Observatory is an astronomical observatory of the private Vassar College, located near the eastern edge of the Poughkeepsie, New York college's campus. Finished in 1865, it was the first building on the college's campus, older even than the Main Building, with which it shares the status of National Historic Landmark. The observatory's significance is due to its association with Maria Mitchell, the first widely known woman astronomer in the United States.
Anna Winlock (1857-1904) was an American astronomer and human computer, one of the first members of female computer group known as "the Harvard Computers." She made the most complete catalog of stars near the north and south poles of her era. She is also remembered for her calculations and studies of asteroids. In particular, she did calculations on 433 Eros and 475 Ocllo.
Christine Ladd-Franklin was an American psychologist, logician, and mathematician.
Alice Everett was a British astronomer and engineer who grew up in Ireland. She also contributed to the fields of optics and early television. She is probably best known for being the first woman to be paid for astronomical work at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, when she began her employment at the observatory January 1890.
Susan Jane Cunningham was an American mathematician instrumental in the founding and development of Swarthmore College. She was born in Virginia, and studied mathematics and astronomy with Maria Mitchell at Vassar College as a special student during 1866–67. She also studied those subjects during several summers at Harvard University, Princeton University, Newnham College at Cambridge, the Greenwich Observatory in England, and Williams College.
Ida Barney was an American astronomer, best known for her 22 volumes of astrometric measurements on 150,000 stars. She was educated at Smith College and Yale University and spent most of her career at the Yale University Observatory. She was the 1952 recipient of the Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy.
Mary Helen Wright Greuter was an American astronomer and historian, who wrote and edited on the history and methodology of sciences, including anthropology, archeology, mathematics, and physics.
Mary A. Albertson, born Mary Ann Mitchell, was an American botanist and astronomer. From 1904 to 1914, she curated the Maria Mitchell memorial located on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Her work there covered both the nascent botany department and the astronomical observatory. In the botany department, she curated an herbarium of Nantucket plants, in memory of her cousin Mitchell's love of flowers. She died in 1914 on Nantucket Island.
Caroline Ellen Furness was an American astronomer who taught at Vassar College in the early twentieth century. She studied under Mary Watson Whitney at Vassar and was the first woman to earn a PhD in astronomy from Columbia.
Ye Shuhua is a Chinese astronomer and professor at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, known for achieving one of the world's most precise measurements of Universal Time in the 1960s, and for establishing the very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) and satellite laser ranging (SLR) techniques in China.
Maud Worcester Makemson was an American astronomer, a specialist on archaeoastronomy, and director of Vassar Observatory.
Mary Brück was an Irish astronomer, astrophysicist and historian of science, whose career was spent at Dunsink Observatory in Dublin and the Royal Observatory Edinburgh in Scotland.
María Assumpció Català i Poch was a Spanish professor, mathematician, and astronomer. She taught from 1952 to 1991. She started as an assistant in the Astronomy Section of the Seminar on Mathematics in Barcelona, related to the Spanish National Research Council. Later, she worked in the Henri Poincaré Institute and she also cooperated in some projects with the special chair of Technology in the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
Antonia Ferrín Moreiras was a mathematician, professor and the first female Galician astronomer. Her main contributions to astronomy were works on stellar occultations by the moon, measures of double stars and astrometric measurements, as well as the determination of the passage of stars through two verticals. She accomplished all of this while she was working at the Observatory of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC).
Julena Steinheider Duncombe (1911–2003) was an American mathematician and astronomer. She was known for her work as a teacher at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center and as an astronomer at the United States Naval Observatory, where she made pioneering observations with the 6-inch transit circle, introduced the use of punched cards in cataloging stars and constructing tables of positions of celestial bodies, and led the production of eclipse predictions for almanacs.
Margaretta Palmer (1862–1924) was an American astronomer, one of the first women to earn a doctorate in astronomy. She worked at the Yale University Observatory at a time when woman were frequently hired as assistant astronomers, but when most of these women had only a high school education, so Palmer's advanced degree made her unusual for her time.
Maria Vasilyevna Zhilova (1870-1934) was the first female Russian professional astronomer. She worked as astronomer and orbit calculator at the Pulkovo Observatory from 1895 to 1930.