Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin


On the brilliant site She Is An Astronomer. http://www.sheisanastronomer.org/index.php/history/cecilia-payne-gaposchkin

She became the first person to earn a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe for her thesis “Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars”. Astronomer Otto Struve characterized it as “undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy”.


Payne-Gaposchkin’s PhD is considered by many as the turning point of the Harvard College Observatory, and of women in astronomy, allowing women to enter the mainstream world of astronomy. She received the Annie Cannon Award in astronomy in 1934 for her work.

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Wow! Her PhD covered so much truly fundamental stuff - I remember learning all of that at either A-level or 1st year undergrad. I had no idea that it was all from the work of one person, or that it was the work of a woman. What are the chances that if it were the work of a man, I’d know who had found out about them before know?



Exactly! The site is nice too, lots of interesting profiles there (although it might not have been updated in a while).