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Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer

Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer

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Born and raised on Nantucket, Quaker Maria Mitchell apprenticed with her father, an amateur astronomer. in 1847, thanks to her diligent "sweeps" of the sky, Mitchell discovered the eponymous comet that would catapult her to international fame. Soon she was hired as the "computer of Venus," a sort of human calculator, for the U.S. Nautical Almanac. Mitchell later joined the founding faculty at Vassar, where she sadly watched opportunities for her students vanish as science morphed from a private pursuit to a public profession, and the increasingly male scientific establishment closed ranks.


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