Maria Mitchell

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Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer in the 1800s. She is thought to have been the first professional woman astronomer in the US. She was born into a Quaker family with an open mind. She was related to the famous polymath Benjamin Franklin in a distant way. Her parents thought it was important for women to get an education, so they encouraged Maria to learn as a child. She grew up in a community where most of the women were strong-willed and smart, which helped her become the same way. Her dad was a school principal, and he used his own telescope to teach her about the stars at home. She became very interested in astronomy and found that she was good at it on her own. She wasn’t even 13 when she helped her dad figure out when an annular eclipse would happen. A few years later, she found a comet that came to be called “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.” This made her well-known, and the fact that she was one of the few women to ever find a comet brought her fame all over the world. She was the first woman in the country to work as a professional astronomer. She was well-liked and held a number of important academic positions. She was an astronomer, but she was also a feminist who thought everyone, no matter their gender or race, should have the same rights.

Early years and childhood

Maria Mitchell was born to William Mitchell and Lydia Coleman Mitchell on August 1, 1818, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She was one of ten children born to Quaker parents.

Maria and her sisters grew up in a typical Quaker community that put a lot of emphasis on girls’ education and equal rights for women. They got the same high-quality education as their brothers.

She went to Elizabeth Gardener’s small school for her early education, and then she went to the North Grammar school, where her father was the first principal. Later, her father built his own school, where she not only went to school but also helped him teach.

Her father saw that Maria was interested in astronomy and began to teach her about it at home using his own telescope. She was naturally interested in the stars and helped her father figure out the exact time of an annular eclipse before she was 13 years old.
Her father’s school closed down, so she went to the school for young ladies run by Unitarian minister Cyrus Peirce.

Maria Mitchell’s Career

After she finished her schooling at Peirce’s school, she became his teaching assistant. In 1835, she finally opened her own school.

She was an independent woman who thought everyone should have the same rights. Because of this, she decided that all children, no matter what color or race they were, could go to her school. At the time, segregated schools were the norm, so it was seen as a controversial move.

Later, she was asked to be the first librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum, which she agreed to do. She worked at this job for 20 years. She kept studying on her own and watching the stars and planets in her free time in addition to her job.

On the evening of October 1, 1847, she looked through her telescope and saw a small, fuzzy streak in the sky. She realized it was a comet and told her father in a very happy way. She then wrote down where the object was and kept watching it to make sure it was a comet.

When she was sure it was a comet, her father told everyone about what she had found. She won a prestigious award for this, and it didn’t take long for her to become well-known all over the world. She became known as America’s first professional astronomer, and she is one of only a handful of women who are known to have found a comet.

She was the first woman to be named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This happened in 1848. She joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science a few years later.

In 1865, she became the first person ever to teach astronomy at Vassar College. She was also the first woman in the United States to teach astronomy at a college. She was also put in charge of the observatory at Vassar College. She taught at the college until 1888 when she stopped working there.

As a teacher, she always stressed how important it is to observe. She told her students to look at things for themselves instead of just reading about them. In 1878, she and a few of her students went 2,000 miles to Colorado to see a total eclipse of the sun.

She was also a strong feminist who fought for women’s rights and told women they shouldn’t just do housework but should also pursue their intellectual interests.

A Big Job

She was praised all over the world for finding a new comet, which she saw for the first time on October 1, 1847. After her, the comet was called “Miss Mitchell’s Comet,” and she was one of the few women to ever find a comet.

Awards & Achievements

She found a new comet, which was later called “Miss Mitchell’s Comet,” and won the King of Denmark’s Cometary Prize Medal in 1848.

Both the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket and the Mitchell crater on the moon are named for her.
In 1994, Maria Mitchell was added to the National Women’s Hall of Fame after she had died.

Personal History and Legacies

Maria Mitchell has never tied the knot. She stayed close to her parents and siblings her whole life, and after her mother died in 1861, she took care of her father.
She died in Lynn, Massachusetts, on June 28, 1889, when she was 70 years old.

Estimated Net worth

Maria is one of the wealthiest and most well-known Astronomers. Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider all say that Maria Mitchell has a net worth of about $1.5 million.