Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O

Mitchell, Maria

astronomer nantucket astronomy comet

(1818–89) US early female astronomer; observed a new comet.

Maria Mitchell was born on Nantucket Island, MA, one of 10 children of a school teacher and amateur astronomer. Her education in private elementary schools finished when she was 16. However, Nantucket was an area where it was usual to become familiar with some mathematics, astronomy and navigation. Mitchell assisted her father with his astronomical observations and learned to use his instruments. In 1836 she was appointed librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum and continued with her studies and astronomy. In 1847 she observed a new comet and won a gold medal which had been offered by the king of Denmark for such a discovery, despite competition from observers in Rome and Britain. From this time she was honoured as a leading astronomer. In 1849 she became a computor for the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac and began to work for the United States Coast Survey. She visited observatories in England and Europe, and met many of the scientists of the time. In 1865 she became professor of astronomy and director of the observatory at Vassar College, New York.

Mitscherlich, Eilhardt [next] [back] Mitchell, Arthur W.(1883–1968) - Civil rights activist, educator, politician, Serves in Congress, Chronology

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or