Maria Mitchell

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Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) was an American astronomer. She began her career as an amateur, making observations from her home in Nantucket. In 1847 she discovered a comet, winning an international prize, and became a minor celebrity.[1] This launched her on her professional career. She worked on calculations for the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac. In 1865, Matthew Vassar founded Vassar College and hired her as a professor of astronomy and director of the observatory. The observatory was the first building constructed at Vassar.[2] Vassar became an important center of astronomy, and Vassar graduates were in demand by the large observatories.[3]

See also

Hall of Fame


  1. Mass Moments: Maria Mitchell discovers comet, October 1, 1847
  2. Maria Mitchell Observatory, Vassar Encyclopedia
  3. Mack, Pamela E. (1990), "Straying From Their Orbits: Women in Astronomy in America," in Kass-Simon, G. and Patricia Farnes (eds) (1990), Women of Science: Righting the Record, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-33264-8