For all of their faults as a company, the Google Doodle team does a really good job of celebrating the most incredible people you’ve probably never heard about (1)Well, there goes my search engine ranking. In this way, the public gets to learn about some truly incredible individuals or events that would otherwise go unnoticed.
One of those people is astronomer Maria Mitchell, who became America’s first female professional astronomer. From her website:
Maria Mitchell (pronounced Ma-RYE-ah) was an astronomer, librarian, naturalist, and above all, educator. She discovered a comet through a telescope, for which she was awarded a gold medal by the King of Denmark. She was then thrust into the international spotlight and became America’s first professional female astronomer.
Her contributions to the field of Astronomy are worth checking out, starting with her big break into the field with the discovery of a comet!
However, along with becoming the first woman professional astronomer, a quick read of her Wikipedia entry reveals that she was also the first woman to be paid far less than her male counterparts. Fortunately, she demanded a raise, and got it.
Unfortunately, things aren’t much better these days, it seems.
But back to Mitchell, definitely read up about her. We still have a long way to go toward making astronomy a more equal field, but we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without Mitchell taking that first step.
Happy Birthday, Miss Mitchell!
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