Maria Mitchell would have been 195 years old today. Or we might have announced at the church social that she was “195 years young.”
Any recognition for Maria would most definitely have to have been at night, since that is when she did her best work.
Maria was the first professional woman astronomer. A rare accomplishment in Puritan Massachusetts. Maria Mitchell was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1818. She was the third child of 10 born and she was taught at first by her father but then she intrinsically motivated herself with further studies. Google’s logo today honors her today.
There is a quote attributed to motivational speaker Les Brown that advises ““Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Maria did this very thing, a very rare thing for the times, and maybe even today too.
Using a telescope in 1847, she was the first to discover a comet, now known as known today as comet C/1847 T1. She was also the first woman admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a faculty member at Vassar College, she taught astronomy. There is a crater on the moon named for her.
And she must have felt God’s grace. Like the stars, her life reflected praise.
She said, “Every formula which expresses a law of nature is a hymn of praise to God.”
When you look at the night sky tonight, remember to whisper a Happy Birthday wish to Maria Mitchell.
Read more about Maria Mitchell at the Writer’s Almanac