The Glass Universe

How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars
Author(s): Dava Sobel
Genre: History, Science
Awards:2017-NonFiction-Longlist-Andrew Carnegie Medal
Original Publish Date: Dec 06, 2016
eAudio - unabridged
Audio (12.72 hours)
Product Number: Z100116409
Released: Dec 06, 2016
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9780735288676
Narrator/s: Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Books on Tape
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel, the "inspiring" (People), little-known true story of women's landmark contributions to astronomy A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017 Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Economist, Smithsonian, Nature, and NPR's Science Friday Nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award "A joy to read." —The Wall Street Journal In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or "human computers," to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges—Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. 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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Author(s): Dava Sobel
Genre: Science, History
Product Number EB00665841
Released: Dec 06, 2016
Business Term: 2 Year
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: #9780698148697

Professional reviews

"While the men searched the stars at night, the women interpreted and made discoveries from the "glass universe" they had recorded. Cassandra Campbell tells the story of these unknown women and their influence on the field of astronomy. Campbell's gentle, soothing storytelling breathes life into the women, from the early group of astronomers' wives and daughters in the mid-1800s to the graduates of women's colleges later in the century and the more recent stories of influential female astronomers. Sobel's writing is enhanced by the inclusion of excerpts from the personal diaries and letters of some of these exceptional women. Campbell's smooth and refined reading brings a personal touch to the listening experience. A.G.M. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"

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