Ladies of the Night

Ladies of the Night

Becky Ramotowski

 

Women discovered some of the sky’s most admired objects.

 

Lucretia Caroline Herschel

Caroline’s #              NGC#                       RA           DEC          type        discovery date      mag.

CH 12  14                NGC  189    -             00:39.6  +61:04  Cas  OC     O  1783 Sep 27          8.8
 
CH 9   4   M110       NGC  205   H V.18     00:40.4  +41:41  And  G E5p  I  1783 Aug 27         8.5
 
CH 11   9                 NGC 225    H VIII.78  00:43.4  +61:47  Cas  OC     O  1783 Sep 27          7.0
 
CH 10   5                 NGC 253    H V.1       00:47.6  -25:17  Scl  G Sc   I      1783 Sep 23        7.1
 
CH 20   6                 NGC 659    H VIII.65  01:44.2  +60:42  Cas  OC     O  1783 Sep 27          7.9
 
CH 13  11                NGC  752? H VII.32   01:57.8  +37:41  And  OC     I    1783 Sep 29          5.7
 
CH 2   1                   NGC 2360  H VII.12   07:17.8  -15:37  CMa  OC     O  1783 Feb 26           7.2
 
CH 5   2   M 48        NGC 2548  H VI.22    08:13.8  -05:48  Hya  OC     I     1783 Mar  8           5.8
 
CH  8   3                  NGC 6633  H VIII.72  18:27.7  +06:43  Oph  OC     I    1783 Jul 31            4.6
 
CH 16  12                NGC 6819    -             19:41.3  +40:11  Cyg  OC     O  1784 May 12        7.3
 
CH 7  10                  NGC 6866  H VII.59   20:03.7  +44:00  Cyg  OC     O  1783 Jul 23            7.6
 
CH 17   8                 NGC 7380  H VIII.77  22:47.0  +58:06  Cep  OC+N   O  1787 Aug  7         7.2
 
CH 14   7                 NGC 7789  H VI.30    23:57.0  +56:44  Cas  OC     O  1783 Oct 30        13.4

              IC 4665                                      17h 46.2   +5 43’ Oph  OC        1783 Jul 31            4.2  

 

No. 1. Feb 26, 1783. M93.

Caroline thought to have discovered a new cluster near the star 7 (Zeta) Navis (Puppis), which was probably miss read 1 (Rho) and therefore not immediately identified with M93. [MH No. 17]

No. 2. Feb 26, 1783. H VII.12 = NGC 2360.

Caroline’s first real original discovery of a deepsky object. [MH No. 1] In the appendix to his first catalog, William confused this one with H VII.13 = NGC 2204. [MH No. 16]

No. 3. Mar 4, 1783. M46.

[MH No. 18]

No. 4. Mar 4, 1783. H VII.22 = NGC 2349

[MH No. 13]

No. 5. Mar 8, 1783. H VI.22 = M48 (NGC 2548).

[MH No. 2]

No. 6. Apr 6, 1783. M29.

[MH No. 19]

No. 7. Jul 23, 1783. H VII.59 = NGC 6866.

[MH No. 10]

No. 8. Jul 31, 1783. H VIII.72 = NGC 6633.

[MH No. 3]

No. 9. Aug 27, 1783. H V.18 = M110 (NGC 205).

[MH No. 4] In the appendix to his first catalog, William confused this one with H V.19 = NGC 891. Based on this entry, William Smyth attributed the latter to Caroline. [MH No. 15]

No. 10. Sep 23, 1783. H V.1 = NGC 253.

[MH No. 5]

No. 11. Sep 27, 1783. H VIII.78 = NGC 225.

[MH No. 9]

No. 12. Sep 27, 1783. NGC 189.

[MH No. 14]

No. 13. Sep 29, 1783. H VII.32 = NGC 752

[MH No. 11]

No. 14. Oct 30, 1783. H VI.30 = NGC 7789.

[MH No. 7]

No. 15. Feb 23, 1784. Re-observation of NGC 225.

Cluster 1 1/4 deg south following Kappa Cas, viewed again March 8 and 11, according to Hoskin (2005), footnote No. 97. Missing the identity may have resulted from a misprint; On Feb 23, Caroline noted erronously that this cluster would precede, instead of follow, Kappa Cas. William Herschel probably quotes this observation as discovery when he writes “CH 1784” in his catalog, while the original discovery was her No. 11.

No. 16. May 12, 1784. NGC 6819.

[MH No. 12]

No. 17. Oct 13, 1782. “Chi Aurigae or near it is nebulous.”

Not identifyable by this description.

No. 18. Dec 1, 1782. “1h 40′ 28″ RA & 13deg S Dec are 3. 4. 5 or more small stars which I cannot help thinking make a nebulous appearance.”

Not identifyable by this description.

No. 19. Aug 7, 1787. H VIII.77 = NGC 7380.

[MH No. 8]

No. 20. Sep 27, 1783. H VIII.65 = NGC 659.

[MH No. 6]

 

Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born March 16, 1750 in Hanover, Germany.  She was the fifth of six children.  A battle with small pox at the tender age of three disfigured her left eye and pock marked her cheeks and face.

Caroline helped her brother William with the discovery of Uranus on March 13, 1781.  She was the first woman to discover a comet August 1, 1786, and by 1797 she had discovered seven more comets.

Caroline wrote her own epitaph, which was engraved on her tombstone upon her death on January 9, 1848.  It reads, “The eyes of her who is glorified here below turned to the starry heavens…”

 

Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming

Born May 15, 1857 Dundee, Scotland died May 21, 1911 Boston, Mass.

Fleming was the housemaid to Professor Edward Charles Pickering and was hired in 1881 as a clerk at Harvard College Observatory after Pickering became frustrated with his male assistants and said his maid could do a better job. 

Williamina Fleming’s Triangular Wisp (NGC 6979) is part of the Veil Nebula.  Discovered in 1904 it is also known as Pickering’s Triangle and Simeis 3-188.

NGC 6979 is listed as a Bright Nebula 7.0’ x 3.0’ located at  RA 20h 51m 14.9s.  Dec. +32 10’ 14”

Current estimates place this supernova remnant at about 1800 light years from Earth.  The entire Veil Nebula complex of which Pickering’s Triangle is but a portion of has an apparent diameter of about 3 degrees.  The tangled mass of star ejecta in the main body of the complex along with the delicate twisted filaments trailing out from that region make this object a beautiful and rewarding target for astro-photographers.

She, along with Edward Charles Pickering recognized the unusual faintness of white dwarfs in 1910.

Fleming contributed to the cataloguing of stars for the Henry Draper Catalogue.  She catalogued more than 10,000 stars in nine years.  During her work, she discovered 59 gaseous nebulae, over 310 variable stars, and 10 novae.  In 1907, she published a list of 222 variable stars that she had discovered.  She published her discovery of “white dwarfs” in 1910.

She discovered 94 Wolf Rayet Stars.

Fleming discovered spectral variations from Beta Lyrae, indicating it was a double star.

Williamina was made curator in 1989 of the astronomical photographs at Harvard Observatory.  She was succeeded by her protégé, Annie Jump Cannon.

Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming

Discoveries:

           

IC         HN        Con      Date                 Type                             Notes    

418       69         LEP      Mar. 26, 1891    planetary nebula            Spirograph Nebula

Lies about 2000 light years away and spans 0.3 light years across 

420       63         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    emission nebula            Diffuse nebula or supernova remnant                type EN

421       66         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    galaxy                           

423       58         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    emission nebula                         

424       56         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula                         

426       57         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula             

427       67         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    emission nebula             

428       64         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    emission nebula             

430       65         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula             

431       61         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula 

432       60         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula 

435       59         ORI       Jun. 27, 1888    reflection nebula 

1266                 ARA     1894                             planetary nebula

1292                 SGR     1894 not found   

1297                 CRA     1894 planetary nebula 

1644     83         TUC      1901 emission nebula   

1747     103       CAS     1905 planetary nebula   

2105     84         DOR     1901 emission nebula   

2111     85         DOR     1901 emission nebula   

2117     89         DOR     1901 emission nebula   

2145     92         DOR     1901 emission nebula   

2149     105       AUR     1906 planetary nebula   

2165     79         CMA     1898 planetary nebula   

2189     75         CMI      1894 star   

2206     76         PUP     1895 2 stars   

2448     80         CAR     1898 planetary nebula   

2501     101       CAR     1904 planetary nebula   

2553     70         CAR     1893 planetary nebula   

4191     107       MUS     1907 planetary nebula   

4544     71         NOR     1893 not found   

4593     108       HER     1907 planetary nebula   

4634     72         OPH     1894 planetary nebula   

4637     95         SCO     1901 planetary nebula   

4642     96         ARA     1901 planetary nebula   

4663     97         SCO     1901 planetary nebula   

4699     98         TEL      1901 planetary nebula   

4732     99         SGR     1901 planetary nebula   

4776     77         SGR     1896 planetary nebula   

4816     81         SGR     1899 galaxy   

4846     100       AQL      1901 planetary nebula   

4850     82         AQL      1901 emission nebula   

5117     104       CYG     1905 planetary nebula   

5217     102       LAC      1904 planetary nebula   

 

 

In 1999, Mrs. Fleming discovered the Horsehead Nebula on Harvard plate B2312, describing the bright nebula (later known as IC-434) as having “a semicircular indentation 5 minutes in diameter 30 minutes south of Zeta (Orionis).”  William Pickering, who took the photograph, speculated that the spot was dark obscuring matter.

 

Annie Jump Cannon Born December 11, 1863 in Dover, Delaware. Died April 13, 1941 in Cambridge, Mass.

We can thank Cannon for the mnemonic, Oh Be a Fine Girl and Kiss Me.—She applied a third system to stars and divided them into the spectral classes O, B, F, G, K, M. 

 

Henrietta Leavitt  Born 1868.  Died in 1921 of cancer in Cambridge, Mass.  She was hired by Edward Pickering to measure the brightness of stars at Harvard College Observatory since women were not allowed to operate telescopes in the 1900’s.

Leavitt is credited with discovering “period-luminosity relationship” the pattern of variable stars showing that brighter variable stars had longer periods.  It was Leavitt that led the way for groundbreaking distance measurements to be made by Edwin Hubble.

 

Louisa D. Wells discovered the variability of SS Cygni, a “dwarf nova”. No details of the discovery have been found but early plates at Harvard College indicate a discovery date sometime before September 23, 1896.  SS Cygni is one of the most observed variable stars in the sky.

 

Dorrit Hoffleit born March 12, 1907 in Florence, Alabama died April 9, 2007.

Hoffleit and Harlan J. Smith co-discovered the optical variability of the first discovered quasar 3C 273.

3C 273 is a quasar located in the constellation Virgo.  With a magnitude of ~12.9 and is the optically brightest quasar in the sky.  It is also one of the closest quasars with a redshift, z. of 0.158.  It is one of the first extragalactic X-ray sources discovered in 1970.

3C 273 is located in the constellation Virgo at Right ascension 12h29m 06.7s.  Declination +02 03’ 09” and is visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres in May.  It is bright enough to be observed with large scopes.

Hoffleit is the author of the Bright Star Catalogue.

 

 

Mareta N. West (1915-1998)   was an American astrogeologist raised in Oklahoma.  She chose the site of the first manned lunar landing in the 1960’s.  In 1969, Mareta was the only woman on NASA’s Geology Experiment Team for the landing of Apollo 11.  She pinpointed the exact landing spot on the moon for the fragile lunar lander called the Eagle.

 

Lyudmila Geogievna Karachkina is a Soviet Russian or Ukrainian astronomer working at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory that discovered 3063 Makhaon is a Jupiter trojan asteroid that orbits in the Lagrangian point of the Sun-Jupiter system in the “Greek Camp” of Trojan asteroids.  It was named after the Greek hero Makhaon, who fought during the Trojan War.  It was discovered by Lyudmila Georgievna Karachkina in Msuchnyj, Ukraine on August 4, 1983.

 

Tamara Mikhajlovna Smirnova is a Russian born astronomer that co- discovered the periodic comet 74P/Smirnova-Chernykh, along with Nikolaj Stepanovich Chernykh in late March 1975.

The next perihelion of 74P/Smirnova is July 30 2009

 

Margaret Burbridge

This woman is one of my heroes.  If you read anything about her you will find she made a lot of headway in a world predominantly filled with men.

She was denied a Carnegie Fellowship in 1945 because receiving it meant she would have to observe at Mount Wilson observatory, a place reserved for men only at the time.  She did finally gain access to Mount Wilson in 1955 posing as her husband’s assistant.

Burbridge was one of the first to study quasars and rotation curves of galaxies.

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