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Maria became a librarian at Nantucket Atheneum but 10 years later fire swept through Nantucket, destroying the Atheneum. She was hired as a computer for the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac. Later on Maria taught astronomy at Vassar Female College, Mitchell resigned her position with the Nautical Almanac to focus on her job as a professor and later retired in 1888.
Maria Mitchell was born on August 1, 1818 to William and Lydia Mitchell in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
itchell was born into a very strict environment lived in a large house on the coast with her 9 siblings.
In 1888, when her health began to fail her, Mitchell retired to Nantucket, and died in Lynn on June 28, 1889. Her family's home there is now a museum and she was inducted into the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.
Place of Birth
Maria Mitchell was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in the United States
On October 1, 1847, at the age of 29, Maria Mitchell discovered a comet. Not only was this a first in American science, she used a mere two-inch telescope, which illustrates her true skill as an astronomer. After some controversy with an Italian man who claimed the discovery, she was awarded the international medal for this achievement. The comet was named "Miss Mitchell's Comet" and was featured in Elias Loomis’
The Recent Progress of Astronomy
. As a result, she became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1848. Just 30 at the time, she would be the only woman thus recognized for almost a century into the future.
Maria was known for discovering the first comet that is now known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”, She used a mere two-inch telescope, which illustrates her true skill as an astronomer. An astronomer is a scientist who studies
, nebulae, and
She attended the school at which her father was the master, where she developed a love for nature. She then spent a year with the school presided over by Cyrus Peirce, but left in 1835 at the age of 17 to open her own school to train girls in science and math. In 1836, Maria went to work as the librarian of the Nantucket Atheneum. Over the next twenty years, she further developed her passion for knowledge by reading as many books as she could when the library was closed. While she spent her days reading, she spent her nights observing the sky with her father. William had built an observatory on top of the nearby Pacific Bank, where he was the principal officer, and this served as a catalyst for her achievements in astronomy.
Did you know
Marie Mitchell was the first American woman astronomer. On the night of October 1, 1847, Mitchell stood on a Nantucket rooftop with her telescope and discovered a telescopic comet, which is invisible to the naked eye. This discovery gave her worldwide fame since she was only the second woman to see a comet (the first being German-British astronomer Caroline Herschel). In 1865, she became the first astronomy professor, male or female, at Vassar College. In addition to being an advocate in the Woman’s Rights movement, Mitchell was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.Mitchell and her students witnessed Venus crossing the sun in 1882—only the sixth such event to occur since 1608.
Maria Mitchell, Astronomer
. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003. Print.
Cooney, Miriam P.
Celebrating Women in Mathematics and Science
. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1996. Print
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 6 Sep. 2013. <
. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Wikipedia, "Maria Mitchell."
. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
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