The "glass universe" of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades-through the generous support of Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, the widow of a pioneer in stellar photography-enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish woman originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 became the first ever woman professor of astronomy at Harvard-and Harvard's first female department chair.
Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe> is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.
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