Seminar - Cosmos



Seminar - Cosmos
Antonia Mª Varela Pérez
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
ESACESAC-Madrid 4th June 2009
Middle Ages
Astronomy in the Renaissance
XIX Century Women Computers
Pickering’s “Harem”
Renowned Women Astronomers of Harvard
XX Century: New Times
The Canarian Observatories: Women in the Shadow
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Women in the Experimental Sciences, Claramunt et al., 2003
Ideological: machism , feminism, sexism, mysogeny…
Pedagogical: mixed education, coeducacion, etc.
Science is NEUTRAL and OBJECTIVE...however:
Science and Technology…ANDROCENTRIC
Masculine scientific authorityp responsible for feminine invisibility and the exclusion
of women in science.
In Mathematics and Astronomy…FAMILY ASSISTANT.
History of science partial and skewed.
Aristotle: “Women have fewer teeth than men.”
St.Augustin: “Woman is a weak, unstable animal...”
St. Thomas Aquinus::“This is the subjection with which woman, by her nature, was
placed beneath her husband; because nature herself gave man greater discernment. “
Darwin:”…men achieve greater eminence in any matter they undertake.”
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Prehistory (25000-8000 BC)…nomads, feminine matriarchal society
(fertility, mother-gods)...sedentariness and patriarchy.
The incursion of women into the world of philosophy and science
dates from Antiquity...VI century B.C. (Pythagorean school).
The societies of classical antiquity were mainly patriarchal. For example,
Greek and Roman women never possessed great political power, they were
not members of the polis or of cities in any full sense. For this reason, we
must value the role of all these women in various fields since, in spite of living
in an era in which society was dominated by a particularly male point of view,
they nevertheless achieved their place in the history of humanity.
C. Aitana Roures Segura
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Merit Ptah, 2700 B.C., the first
Women scientific.
En Hedu’Anna, 2350 B.C., Astronomy
& mathematics,
invented two- and three-spouted
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THEANO, IV B.C., wife of
Pythagoras. She is thought
to have written treatises on
mathematics, physics and
medicine, and also on the
golden proportion.
was famous in the field of
medicine and obstetrics,
but also for having led
one of the first feminine
Odisea en el Espacio.. L. [email protected]
Ge = Earth
Metrein = Measure
Geometry = Measurement of the Earth
Pythagoras ( 580 – 500 B.C.)
B.C.) : The first formulations of the mathematics of space
Cosmos = Ordered universe Cosmology = Study of the supreme order of things
...a matter of greater concern to philosophers than to scientists...
Cosmos = Universo
... in contradistinction
Logos = Reason,
, reflectionR
Reason, to...
Kaos = Desorden
...and Cosmology
The Pythagoreans:
Pythagoreans: the first to suggest a moving Earth
- The Earth, the Sun and other planets would be round globes orbiting a central fire The stars
are holes in-the
celestial vault
through which their light is perceived;
- Theperfectly
harmonic rotation
of the celestial
the “word
of God”
”... produces “celestial music”
The Book of Genesis:
On the first day the Earth ...
...and only on the fourth day
God created the Sun, Moon and
stars ...
The idea of the Earth and Man as
the centre of creation demanded a
geocentric cosmology ...
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AGLAONIKE OF THESSALY, first woman astronomer.
She lived around the year 400 B.C.
She was born in Thessaly and is known as the first
woman astronomer in western history.
This woman certainly studied in Mesopotamia
since she was perfectly familiar with the Saros
cycle studied by the Chaldeans. With this
knowledge she could predict eclipses with great
precision for the period.
Such knowledge surely would have given her an
important rank in a society that was greatly
influenced by the fear that certain celestial
phenomena, such as eclipses, produced in people.
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Hypatia of Alexandria: astronomer and mathematician
Name: Hypatia
Born: Alexandría, Egypt, c. 355 A.D.
Died: 415/6 A.D.
School/Tradition: Neoplatonism
Calendario Astrónomas
Main interests: Astronomy, mathematics
Influenced by Plotinus, Aristotle, Plato
Influenced a Synesius de Cyrene, Socrates Scholasticus
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The School of Athens - fresco by
Raffaello Sanzio
Hypatia taught her disciples in her own home.
Among her disciples were Christians, including her
favourite Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais (40913 A.D.), from a rich and powerful family, who
maintained a great friendship with his teacher. He left
much written information on Hypatia, and it is through
these that we know of her works, although none of these
has survived. Her disciples formed a close-knit group of
pagan and Christian aristocrats, some of whom held high
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Hypatia", impression by the
English pre-Raphaelite painter
Charles William Mitchell (1885).
Martyr of science and symbol of the supposed decadence of the classical
world before Christianity and irrationality: her anomalous character as a
woman dedicated to thought and learning, her faith in paganism at the time
of Theodosian Christianity and the brutal tearing of her flesh by an enraged
mob of Christians.
Edward Gibbon wrote that Cyril was so jealous of her influence and
popularity that ”he soon prompted, or accepted, the sacrifice of a virgin, who
professed the religion of the Greeks.”
However, her murder was an exceptional and unique case. In fact, the
Alexandrian Neoplatonic school lasted until the VII century.
Feminist movements have claimed her as the paradigm of the “liberated
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End of science of that epoch
Rise of Christianity...Europe enters into the Dark Ages and Greek science
survives only in Byzantium.
EM (s.III) Jewish healer.
Julia Saturnina (S.VI-VII), the first woman to practise medicine in Spain
(Ref. Mujeres en Ciencias Experimentales, Cuadernos de la UNED.Claramunt
et al.).
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When? from the christianization of the Roman Empire (IV d.C. ) until the XV century
1000 years of darkness
- The Middle Ages a dark period for science.
- Religion adopts AristotelianAristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmology.
- The Creation and its mysteries are not the concern of man,
man, but are revealed truths.
The Fire of Ignorance
~ 400 A.D. Burning of the Library of Alexandria:
death sentence of “pagan”
pagan” culture
... and an unreckonable loss to Humanity...
During the entire Middle Ages (and later,
later, until the time of the
Inquisition) the Church maintained the “unchristian”
unchristian” practice of burning
all that was considered heretical.
One of the most illustrious victims of the auto da fe was
Giordano Bruno (1548(1548- 1600),, who
the 4th
and defended an “acentric”
acentric” cosmology.
Women were excluded from
social and cultural life.
Convents and monasteries:
librarians, scribes, teachers.
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Woman teaching geometry. Illustration at the
beginning of the Medieval translation of the
principle of Euclid (c. 1310)
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
1098 Bermersheim (Germany)
17 September, 1179 at Bingen
At 14 years of age entered the Monastery of
Disibodenberg, where she was to become abbess.
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Hildegard of Bingen
Protestificatio de Scivias, Fol.
1, Facsímil de Eibingen del
códice de Ruperstberg
In 1141, at the age of 42, she had a very powerful episode of
visions, during which she received the order to write down all
her future visions. From then onwards, Hildegard wrote down all
her experiences eventually to produce her first book Scivias (“Know
the way”), which she would conclude in 1151.
In 1148, a committee of theologians, at the request of Pope
Eugenius III, studies and approves part of Scivias. Such was her
fame that she became known as Sybil of the Rhein. People went
to listen to her words of wisdom, or to seek cures or guidance.
In this same year, a vision moves Hildegarda to found a new
monastery in Rupertsberg. In her new monastery she dedicates
herself to writing books on physics and medicine until 1158 and
to finishing her collection of chants with the title Symphonia armonie
celestium revelationum.
In 1165 she founds a second monastery in Eibingen, which she
visited regularly twice weekly.
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Hildegarda’s works
Scivias, on theological dogma
Liber Vitae Meritorum, on theological ethics
Liber Divinorum Operum, on cosmology, anthropology and theodicy.
Liber Simplicis Medicinae o Physica, on the curative properties of plants
and animals from a holistic perspective
Liber Compositae Medicinae o Causae et curae, on the origin of illnesses
and their treatments from a theoretical perspective
Another of her outstanding works is Lingua ignota, the first artificial
language in history, causing her to be named patroness of Esperantists.
Hildegarda von Bingen’s alphabet:
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Medieval painting of a spherical
Earth with various seasons at the
same time. Fol. 38, Liber Divinorum
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Operum I, 4.
The Universe, Fol. 14, Scivias I, 3.
Fátima of Madrid (X-XI centuries), Islamic astronomer
Spent most of her life in Cordoba,
then the intellectual centre of the world.
•Daughter of the astronomer Maslama al-Mayriti.
•Wrote a series of works called The Corrections
of Fátima.
•Helped her father with correcting the
Astronomical Tables of al-Khwarizmi, adjusting
them to the meridian of Cordoba, to be used as
the centre of coordinates for astronomical
•Prepared calendars.
•Calculated tables of the true position of the Sun,
Moon and Planets.
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•Compiled tables for trigonometric ratios and
spherical trigonometry, astrological tables,
parallax tables, lunar phases and eclipses.
The Renaissance and Astronomy
El Nuevo
...y la nueva Ciencia
A change of perspective ...revolutionary
...revolutionary but not fully...
este momento,
los axiomas
de la “cosmologí
ía dominante”
Copernicus (1473- 1543)
: proposes
a heliocentric
system but
based on” es
same Ptolemaic
mechanism of epicycles.
de la visió
visió. n del Mundo y del Universo “oficialmente aceptada”
aceptada” son :
Imperfect motion
La Tierra es el centro del Universo (cosmologí
(cosmología geocé
The observations
of Tycho
( 1546the mathematics
Johannes Kepler (15711546-y1601)
(1571- 1630)
- El mundo
de los
el Cieloand
naturaleza of
allow the orbits of the planets to be determined,
determined, demonstrating that:
- the orbits are not circular but elliptical;
- the motion is not uniform but accelerated,
accelerated, the velocity being greatest at perihelion.
prueba de que la Tierra fuese redonda,
había world
End of the
en cuyo caso, navegando hacia el Oeste se tení
tenía que llegar a “las Indias”
Galileo Galilei ( 1564 - 1642 ) , with his telescopes (among the first),
first), discovers:
- Sunspots
- The phases of Venus
- Four moons around Jupiter
With these
he brought
an axiom
of la
” cosmology,
... Eldiscoveries
del “Nuevo
” plantea
de que las, cosas
demonstrating that celestial bodies are not “perfect and free from blemish”
sean diferentes de como siempre se habí
habían querido imaginar
...y abre así
así la puerta a una nueva era cientí
Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727 ) :
discovers the law explaining both the fall of a ripe apple and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion...
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The movement of cultural revitalization that took place in Western
Europe in the XV and XVI centuries. Its principal exponents are to
be found in the arts, although there was also renovation in literature
and the sciences (both natural and and human)..
From medieval theocentrism to renaissance anthropocentrism.
The Renaissance sprang from the diffusion of humanistic ideas,
which gave rise to a new conception of man and the world..
More women wrote poetry and their interest in science, politics and
music also increased. For example, Galileo corresponded with the
Duchess of Tuscany concerning his astronomical discoveries and in
defense of the Copernican hypothesis..
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The Scientific Revolution (XVI and
XVII centuries)
The Scientific Revolution of the XVI and XVII centuries witnessed a great
influx of women into the field of science; however, women were forbidden
entry into the universities.
Assisted family members or helped with their skills in painting (scientific
Margaret Cavendish, an aristocrat of the XVII century and Duchess of
Newcastle, took part in the most important scientific debates of her time.
Although she was not permitted to be a fellow of the Royal Society, she was
once allowed to attend one of its meetings.Others, the Duchess of
Cavendish and the Marchioness of Châtelet.
In Germany, the tradition of female participation in production of scientific
results enabled some women to take part in observational sciences,
particularly astronomy. Between 1650 and 1710, women represented in
Germany 14% of the scientists in astronomy. The best known of these
women astronomers was Maria Winkelmann.
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Sofía Brahe (1556-1643), Denmark.
Sister of Tycho Brahe. She show a great
passion for the stars from early childhood.
In 1566, when she was 10 year old, she
helped Tycho with his astronomical
observations. Years later she wished to enter
university but was prevented from doing so
because of her sex, so she persuaded her
parents to allow her to take private classes in
mathematics, music, astrology, alchemy,
medicine, geneology and classical literature.
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Sofía Brahe (1556-1643), Denmark.
Watercolour of the
observatory and gardens of
Uraniborg. @wikipedia
In her adolescence she worked
at the her brother’s observatory
called the Castle of Uraniborg
on the island of Hven, the
greatest pre-telescopic
• calculations of eclipses
and cometary paths.
First Astronomical Research Centre
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Sofía Brahe (1556-1643), Denmark.
Her parents soon forced her to marry, which prevented her from continuing with
her work. When her father died, 10 years later, she dedicated herself to alchemy,
biology and horticulture. She also continued to help her brother at Uraniborg with
his astronomical observations which formed the observational foundation for
modern predictions of planetary orbits.
They were the first to measure the exact positions of the planets
The compiled a catalogue of planetary positions over several decades. This
catalogue was the most accurate set of uniform data concerning the positions of
the planets with respect to the stellar background up to that time.
Kepler worked with Tycho and obtained his measurements...enabling him to
discover the three laws that govern planetary motion. These laws later provided
the basis for the Universal Law of Gravitation of Newton.
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María Cunitz (1610-1664),
Silesia (now in Poland)
Daughter and wife of
physicians, her husband
was an amateur
She attempted to correct
the Rudolphine Tables of
She wrote Urania Propitia
in 1650.
She became known as the
"Pallas of Silesia" .
Elizabeth Korpman, married the astronomer Hevelius, and continued making
new observations to improve the work of Cunitz. Firmamentum sobieskanum and
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Prodomus astronomiacae, Catalogue of 1888 stars.
Winkelmann (1670-1720), Germany
Started in astronomy with her uncle,
married Kirsch, Prussia’s best-known
Preparation of calendars, planetary
conjunctions, etc.
Discovered the Comet of 1702,
attributed to her husband.
Fought to enter the Berlin Academy
by was denied entry...being a
woman...with no university
studies...The feared that she would
“set a bad example”.
Since the founding of the Berlin Academy of
Sciences only 14 of the 2900 members have been
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women, of these only 4 with full membership.
Other women astronomers in the
In 1680, Jeanne DUMÉE : “women were not incapable of
Nicole-Reine Étable de la Brière LEPAUTE (1723-1788),
studying because they had the same brain as men.” Since she was
17 year old she devoted herself to astronomy. Her works are in the
Bibliotéque Nationale in Paris. Studies on the motion of the Earth
and establishing the theories of Copernicus and Galileo.
wife of the King’s horlogian, investigated oscillations of the
pendulum... her husband’s Traité d´horlogérie…reputation for being
one of the best astronomical computers.
Worked with Lalande and Clairaut on studies of Comet Halley, some
of her achievements attributed to Clairaut.
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Discovered 8 comets, 3 nebulae and
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compiled two astronomical catalogues.
Caroline Lucretia Herschel (17501848), England.
Sister, assistant and housekeeper
of Sir William Herschel.
Interests: Mathematics, astronomy
and philosophy.
Honorary member of the
Astronomical Society of London
(now the Royal Astronomical
Gold Medal for Science of the
King of Prussia.
The first professional woman
astronomer in history…earning 50
pounds a year.
Wang Zhenyi (1768-1797), astronomer
•Studied lunar eclipses with
models she built in her garden.
•Wrote 12 books on
mathematics and astronomy.
•Took meteorological
measurements in an effort to
predict droughts and floods
In 1994 the IAU
named a crater
on Venus after her.
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Between 1859 and 1940, 426 American
women worked measuring and classifying
stellar spectra.
First woman astronomer
in the United States.
From a Quaker family
Worked as a librarian
and collaborated
intensely in her father’s
She defined herself as:
“having a normal level of
activity but with
extraordinary patience.”
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First woman to enter the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences (1848) and
the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (1850).
Worked at Vassar College, earning only
a third as much as her colleagues. She
was the first director of the Observatory..
Collaborated with the US Naval
Received the gold medal of the King
of Denmark.
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Founded the Assocation for the
Advancement of Women..
“The stars are not just bright points of light,
they also transmit the greatness of the
She was famous for asking her students: “Did
you read that in a book or did you observe it
directly? "
“We all need imagination in science”.
•Calculated tables of the positions of Venus.
•Discovered the comet named after her: "Miss Mitchell's Comet“ (Comet 1847 VI)
•She has a crater named after her on the Moon.
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(Mina or Mrs Fleming)
Women astronomers: professors or observatory assistants.
Most notable at Harvard:
Williamina Fleming
Born in Scotland in 1857
1878 emigrates to Boston
with her husband, who
abandons her pregnant
with his child after a year.
Works as Dr Edward
Pickering’s assistant, in
1879 E. Pickering Fleming
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is born.
Classified 10498 stars, discovered more than
300 variable stars and 59 nebulae.
Published in Astrophysical Journal and in the
Harvard Annals.
Mitchel convinced Pickering that women were particularly skilled at
observations and tedious and repetitive calculations. Pickering then
hired 21 women to carry out the classification and cataloguing of
Photograph of Pickering
together with the women on his
staff (year 1913).
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From left to right:: Ida Woods, Evelyn Leland, Florence Cushman, Grace Brooks, Mary Van,
Henrietta Leavitt, Mollie O'Reilly, Mabel Gill, Alta Carpenter, Annie Jump Cannon, Dorothy Black and
Arville Walker, together with Frank Hinkely and Professor Edward King (year 1918).
For working seven hours a day, six days a week, they earned between 25
and 35 cents an hour. Some were known as “computers” because they
carried out the classification of stars and the reduction of complex data;
others, who worked as assistants and were called “recorders” because
they recorded the data.
Rigidly directed by Fleming, whom they called the “keeper of the archive” of
astronomical photographs at Harvard, first institutional post awarded to a
woman at Harvard.
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Other Harvard women astronomers
of note
Antonia Maury (1866-1952)….study and
discovery of the star Beta Lyrae.
Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941)….stars of the
Southern Hemisphere and the spectroscopic
classification system that we now use. She succeeded
Dover, Delaware. Graduated at the University of Wellesley in
1884. Travelled for several years and went to Europe,
becoming a devotee of photography and music. In 1894 she
returned to Wellesley for a year to take an advanced course in
astronomy, and in 1895 she matriculated at Radcliffe in order
to continue the lectures given by Edward C. Pickering, who
was the director of Harvard College Observatory.
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Other Harvard women astronomers
of note
In 1896 Annie Jump Cannon was employed by Professor Edward
Charles Pickering to catalogue variable stars and to classify the
spectra of stars observed at the Arequipa station.
Construction of the Arequipa station with the Misti volcano in the background.
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Other Harvard women astronomers
of note
Interior of the station.
Meridian photometer.
The contribution of the Arequipa station to astrophysics was incalculable. They
help in the observation of the Cepheids in the Magellanic Clouds, which led Miss
Henrietta S. Leavitt to find the famous period-luminosity that permitted the
determination of the size of our Galaxy, the distances of neighbouring galaxies
and finally to the distance scale of the Universe (Hubble’s law).
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Other Harvard women astronomers
of note
Henrietta Levitt
(1968-1921)…discovered 1777
variable stars in the Magellanic
Clouds and the periodluminosity law of the Cepheids.
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Other Harvard women astronomers
of note
Henrietta Levitt
In the course of her work, Leavitt discovered four
novas and around 2400 variables – practically
half of all the variable stars then known. She also
studied Algol-type eclipsing variables and
She was a member of Phi Kappa Beta, the American Association of
University Women, the American Association for the Advancement
of Science and she was also an honorary member of the American
Association of Variable Star Observers.
Her important contribution to the advancement of science was
internationally recognized when, in 1925, the Swedish Academy of
Sciences nominated her for the Nobel Prize.
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XX century, new times
Until the middle of the century women were barred access to observing
The only woman permitted to use a telescope in the ’30s was CECILIA
PAYNE-GAPOSCHKIN (1900-1980), given her great reputation, but
she was only permitted a few hours out of courtesy, not regular access.
150 articles, 4 books and 1st woman professor of Harvard.
MARGARET BURBIDGE (1919-), British. Jointly with her
husband, she made notable contributions to our understanding of the
formation of chemical elements in the interiors of stars through nuclear
fusion (nucleosynthesis) and the theory of quasars. Director of the RGO
and president of the American Astronomical Society.
The 1st woman to use a telescope officially at Mount Palomar was the
American VERA RUBIN (b. 1928 in Philadelphia). Pioneer in the study
of galactic rates of rotation. Her discovery of “flat rotation curves” is the most
direct and strongest evidence for dark matter...”Equality is as elusive as dark
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XX Century, new times
JOCELYN BELL-BURNELL (née Burnell, b. 1943).
Failed her “11+ exam” to enter grammar school.
Passed the “13+ exam” and entered York Grammar School.
1965: graduated in Glasgow.
1968: obtained her PhD in Astronomy at the University of Cambridge.
During her doctorate she discovered, together with her director (Anthony
Hewish) the class of objects that were later to be called pulsars.
Jocelyn Bell was excluded because she was still a doctoral student when
she made the discovery!
She continued her career in prestigious research centres, including the Royal
Observatory Edinburgh and Oxford University..
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In July 1967 Bell detected regularly (1/second) pulsating signals
("Little Green Man 1" (PSR B1919+21), later identified by Hewish as
a rapidly rotating neutron star.
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PARIS PISMIS (1911-1999), astronomer.
•Born in Istambul, of Armenian origin.
•The first woman in Turkey to enter university,
gaining her doctorate in mathematics.
•Married a Mexican mathematician and
became the first professional astronomer in
Mexican history.
• Worked in the Observatorio Astronómico
Nacional (Mexico)
•Left as her legacy more than 100
astronomers currently working in UNAM
•Discovered 20 open clusters and 3 globular
•Contributed to the first explanation of spiral
4th June 2009
Charlotte Moore Sitterly
Solar spectrum
Catherine Cesarsky
(Director of ESO)
Carolyn Shoemaker
Codiscoverer of the comet
Margherita Hack
(Director of Trieste Obs.)
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Melissa McGrath
Hubble Space Telescope team
Women in the shadow
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Charles Piazzi Smyth
Born in Naples on 3 January, 1819
1825: Bedford.
1835: Cape Observatory (South Africa).
1843: Assistent to Sir Thomas Maclear
Observations of Comet Halley and the Great Comet.
1845: Astronomer Royal for Scotland and professor of
astronomy at Edinburgh University.
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Edinburgh Observations vols. xi-xv
1855: R. Stephenson places his yacht Titania at Piazzi Smyth’s disposal,
G.B. Airy approves the project and the First Lord of the Admiralty grants
1856: On board the Titania, £500 donated by the Admiralty and Airy gave £
300 for the honeymoon in Tenerife!
The Royal Society
The Royal Astronomical Society
The British Association
Sir John Herschel
Telescopes, chronometers, actinometers,
barometers, etc.
Southampton Hall on 24 June and
on 8 July, 1856, he arrives at the coast of Santa Cruz
with his wife, Jessie Duncan.
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On 10 July they arrive at Puerto de la Cruz
On 14 July he begins his ascent of Mount Teide
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@George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.
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Pico Teide
Montes Tenerife
In hommage to Piazzi Smyth, Teide
and the Montes Teneriffe have been
commemmorated on the Moon since
the XIX century.
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In memory of
Daughter of Thomas Duncan, the dear wife of Charles
Piazzi Smyth LL.D. Ed. late Astronomer Royal for Scotland
who was his faithful and sympathetic friend and companion
through 40 years of varying scientific experiences
by land and sea abroad as well as at home at 12000 feet up in the atmosphere
on the wind swept Peak of Teneriffe as well as underneath and upon the
Until she fell asleep in the LORD JESUS CHRIST
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At Clova Ripon on the 24th day of March 1896 aged 80.
XXI Century
According to the International Astronomical Union (2003) 12% of
astronomers are women.
•Maximum in Argentina, 35%
•UNAM, 21%
•Spain 30%
•Germany and The Netherlands <10%
IAC 43% of doctoral students are women, but only 22% of the
research staff are women.
IAA 25% are women.
Physical Sciences and Technology 20%
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A final word
Jocelyn Bell-Burnell (Science 304, p.489, 2004)
“Women and minorities should not try to adapt. It’s
time that society movilized towards women, and
not women towards society.”
Maria Mitchel
“Study as if you were going to live forever; live
as if you were going to die tomorrow. "
ESACESAC-Madrid 4th June 2009
Thank you for listening!
ESACESAC-Madrid 4th June 2009