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SCIENCE HERO:
MARIA MITCHELL
by Shannon from USA

Maria Mitchell Inspires a Generation
Credit and Copyright: Helen Wright

A hero can be a sibling, a grandfather, a movie star, or maybe an animal! A hero doesn’t look for fame or glory. A hero is a humble, hardworking person. My hero is Maria Mitchell, the first woman astronomer. She was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1818, and died in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1889.

My hero was the first acknowledged woman astronomer in the United States. One night she looked into a telescope and discovered a comet. In the 19th century comets were found, but it was rare for a woman to discover one. Not many girls were as lucky as Maria was. Her father encouraged her to succeed in science. Her father did everything he could to make her a great astronomer.

Maria became the first woman member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and later was a fellow of the society. She was a Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College from 1865 to1888. In 1875, Maria was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Women.

Painting of Maria Mitchell
From Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
Maria died in 1889. She was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1905. Maria encouraged young people, especially women, to be interested in science. “We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry.”

Maria was always determined to be an astronomer and have a good education. Maria was also a hard-working person, and was supportive to young women. She encouraged women, as her father encouraged her when she was young, to follow their dreams.

I have been reading about Maria’s life, and I am now determined to live my dream and to achieve my goals in life as Maria did. Women can do the same as men. They are living in this world, too. Gender, color of your skin, and religion, have nothing to do with a person being able to make a difference in our world. Maria was a great American, and she is my hero.


Written by Shannon from USA
Last changed on: 10/3/2008 3:58:17 PM

Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association is dedicated to furthering science education, encouraging women in science, and serving as a science resource for Nantucket.

Maria Mitchell First woman astronomer

Distinguished Women of Past and Present Read more about Maria Mitchell.

National Park Service - Places Where Women Made History Maria Mitchell House

National Women's Hall of Fame A biography of Maria Mitchell

More interesting facts about Maria Mitchell!

She was the first person, male or female, to be appointed to the faculty of Vassar College.

She was named Director of the Vassar College Observatory.

Co-Founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Women, and friend of suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

To protest slavery, she refused to wear cotton.

Named after her:
SS Maria Mitchell (WWII Liberty Ship)
Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket


Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer
by Beatrice Gormley

Maria''s Comet
by Deborah Hopkinson,
 

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