Famous People in Astronomy

Maria Mitchell


Maria Mitchell was born August 1, 1818 and died June 28, 1889 at the age of 71 years old


Maria Mitchell was born August 1, 181 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was one of nine children and they were a family of Quakers. Quakers believe strongly in equal education between sexes so Mitchell was stimulated from a young age. Since her father was a teacher she learned under him and became a teaching assistant for him as she grew older. At age 12 she was able to help her father calculate the exact moment of an annular eclipse. She continued school and eventually opened a school to all races in 1835. In 1836 she took the job as the first librarian of the Nantucket Atheneum. On October 1, 1847 she discovered "Miss Mitchell's comet" which gained her lots of attention and fame. She became the first woman elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1848 and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1850. Mitchell was also one of the first women elected to the American Philosophical Society. She almost became professor of astronomy at Vassar College in 1865. She taught at the college until her retirement in 1888. She died one year later on June 28, 1889.


Maria Mitchell discovered "Miss Mitchell's Comet" and became Americas first female astronomer. Although she had no ground breaking theories, she was an inspiration to American and women around the world. She showed anyone can do what they want if they put their mind to it and try. Even today there is an observatory in her name and she continues to be a source of inspiration for aspiring astronomers around the world. In addition she has a WWII ship and a crated in her name as thanks for her discovery and legacy.

Miss Mitchell's Comet


"Mitchell Maria desk" by Julia Ward Howe - Reminiscences, 1819 – 1899 (opposite page 386). Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mitchell_Maria_desk.jpg#/media/File:Mitchell_Maria_desk.jpg

"Maria Mitchell." Bio.com. Bio.com. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/maria-mitchell-9410353>.

Tag Archives: NASA." Maria Mitchell Association. NASA. Web. 06 Jan. 2016. <http://www.mariamitchell.org/tag/nasa>.

"MySci Roundup Oct. 1-3: Miss Mitchell’s Comet." Nat Geo TV Blogs. Nat Geo, 2010. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <http://tvblogs.nationalgeographic.com/2010/10/01/mysci-roundup-oct-1-3-miss-mitchells-comet/>