Astronomer Maria Mitchell Honored With Google Doodle


Google's homepage doodle today is celebrating the 195th birthday of astronomer Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in the U.S.

Mitchell is featured perched on a roof at night, peering through a telescope at passing comets and stars. It's fitting since Mitchell is known for discovering a comet in 1847 at age 29.

As the National Women's History Museum (NWHM) noted, the discovery is noteworthy because Mitchell "used a mere two-inch telescope, which illustrates her true skill as an astronomer."

At the time, Mitchell was "sweeping the sky from the roof of the Pacific National Bank on Main Street, where her father was a cashier, [and] spotted a small blurry object that did not appear on her charts," according to the Maria Mitchell Association.

Written By: Chloe Albanesius
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  1. Sistuhs be doin’ it themselves, yo.

    Always nice to read about some young girls who are not satisfied with the usual girly things and who climb up on the roof, so to speak. Kudos also to an enlightened father who urged her on.

  2. With a 2 inch telescope. That’s a pretty impressive achievement. I got a 60mm scope (yes I know all the astro slang – that’s how cool I am) for christmas last year, and just about made out the ‘ears’ on Saturn. It puts a lot of the discoveries made in the last few hundred years with the tech of the time into perspective, and, at the risk of this thread becoming too laddish, it’s encouraging to see what can be done with just a few inches.

  3. Just a personal observation…. I have done extensive work with microscopes, even developed pictures for research in an “old school” darkroom….Electron microscopy….even worked with a single sideband edge enhancing microscope in the early 1990’s….fluorescence…. immunofluorescence… you get the picture…..

    Anyway, I have never been able to aim a telescope anywhere and get anything accomplished. These things take real skill and precision and knowledge and perseverance and patience and and and and…. And to use a two inch telescope for anything other than snooping on your neighbor (which I couldn’t even do)..

    My utmost admiration for Maria Mitchell and thanks, google for (hopefully) raising awareness about an excellent scientist.

    • In reply to #5 by bluebird:

      In the same vein, Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the 10 pound note in 2017.

      I’m all for Jane Austen on a note, but the current £10 is my favourite one ever, I will be sad to see it go. I’ll have to save one.

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