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Mitchell, Maria

Born: 1818 AD
Died: 1889 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: Astronomers

1818 – Born on August 1st in Nantucket, Massachussetts. The first professional woman astronomer in the United States.

1936 – She worked as a librarian in the Nantucket Atheneum during the day (often acting as an informal teacher) and became a regular observer of the skies at night.

1847 – In October, Mitchell succeeded in establishing the orbit of a new comet.

         – The discovery gained her immediate recognition in scientific circles; the following year she became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1849 – She was appointed a computer for the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, and the next year she was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

1857 – Mitchell’s accomplishments were subsequently kept in the public eye by feminists and she traveled in Europe, meeting many leading scientists.

1858 – A gift of a large equatorial telescope was arranged by a group of prominent American women led by Elizabeth Peabody.

1861 – She moved with her widowed father to Lynn, Massachusetts.

1865 – Mitchell accepted an appointment to Vassar Female College, which opened that year in Poughkeepsie, New York. As director of the observatory and professor of astronomy there, she was, in those early days, the most prominent member of the faculty.

1869 – Elected to the American Philosophical Society.

1873 – She helped found the Association for the Advancement of Women.

1875-1876 – Served as the association’s president.

1888 – Mitchell retired from Vassar in failing health.

1889 – Died on June 28th in Lynn, Massachussetts.