Quirks & Quarks

These incredible women opened our eyes to the stars

Their discoveries paved the way for Hubble and helped map the universe.
This artist’s impression shows CR7 a very distant galaxy discovered using ESO’s Very Large Telescope. (M. Kornmesser/ESO)

In the late 19th century, a group of women were doing a job that most of us would find unimaginable today. They were human 'computers,' working in in the field of astronomy at the esteemed Harvard College Observatory. 

At a time when most of their gender was working in the home, these women were doing math that ultimately revealed a rich body of information about the spectral sky. 

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But as a new book reveals, these women weren't simply good at calculating.They ended up observing stars and making important discoveries, at a time when men dominated every sort of scientific domain.   

 In her new book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars,  science writer Dava Sobel reveals the enormous contribution these women made to an incredible catalogue of the night sky. 

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