Maria Mitchell: America’s First Celebrity Scientist

Maria Mitchell: America’s First Celebrity Scientist


Maria Mitchell, whose first name is spelled
like mine, MARIA but it’s pronounced Maria not Maria, is the first recognized female
astronomer in America and was the first woman elected unanimously to the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences. In 1831 when she was still a teenager obsessed with stargazing
she heard that the king of Denmark had offered a gold medal valued at 20 ducats, which was
a lot of money at the time to the first person to discover a telescopic comet. It took her
16 years to master the science and the craft of observation, but she did become the first
person and C1847T1 was known for 100 years Miss Mitchell’s Comet. Later when she was
hired to teach astronomy at Vassar, the newly established Vassar College, she was the first
woman on the faculty, and according to the official Handbook of College Rules female
students were not allowed to go outside after dark. This was a problem for the study of
astronomy. Mitchell fought tirelessly to overturn not just this but not many other roles based
on antiquated gender norms that held back women in science. Later she was hired as the first woman to
perform a non-domestic specialized skill for the U.S. federal government. She was paid
$300 a year for her job as a computer of Venus for the United States Nautical Almanac. It
was a very, very mathematically rigorous job that required her to perform very complex
calculations that would predict the position of Venus in the sky for years to come. And
in the days before GPS and satellites this is how sailors all over the world navigated
the oceans. By the time she was 40 Mitchell had reached celebrity status as one of the
most famous women in the world, which is a remarkable feat for a scientist. Even today
we don’t have many celebrity scientists. But she was most beloved for her extraordinary
generosity of spirit that went along with her genius. She didn’t much care for the accolades
and the recognition and the celebrity but she went out of her way to mentor and help
cultivate the talents of women in science, which required that she overcame her painful
shyness in order to be a public speaker and a public figure and a role model and an educator,
which she continued to be. She continued to teach right up until her death.

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Comments

  1. I'm distracted by this time traveling post-singularity androids' attempt at early 21st century fashion.why are you here? What makes this message of such import to chance disturbing the spacetime continuum? why!?

  2. >1800s
    >Woman succeeds in a hard science simply by putting the time and effort a man too would need to put in
    >Her works is not undermined but instead highly praised and remembered for centuries to come
    >2010s
    >Feminists who can't add 1+1 project their own shortcomings on other much more capable women and blame it on men
    >Same feminists claim that sciences are exclusionary by nature to women because of institutionalized sexism

    I love hearing about prominent female scientists of the past (times when sexism actually existed) because it just completely obliterates the feminist narrative. It is also worth thinking that for every famous woman in science there were hundreds upon hundreds of more women who played smaller roles in science, just like nowadays we have our big wigs and the countless other PhDs that not many will remember but still do amazing work.

    Very good video, I personally did not know of this woman but that is because I am more interested in pure mathematics.

  3. Very interesting video, always interested in hearing about scientists of days past.

    Also glad you didnt need to raise 40k to make it.

  4. Not allowed to go out after dark? wow. Pretty crazy how America over the years has had similar traits to nazi Germany.

  5. From Maria Mitchell to Anita Sarkeesian… Oh how the mighty have fallen.
    To go from Maria to Anita as women role models, really shows how society and women have failed.
    Just my opinion though.

  6. Benjamin Franklin was America's first celebrity scientist, whoever's been making your titles needs to be fired, not to take anything away from Maria.

  7. It's hard to call somebody a celebrity scientist, if almost nobody ever heard of her. Real celebrity scientists are Franklin, Tesla, Einstein (all were born or lived in the US). And this isn't a sexist comment, because a real female celebrity scientist is for example Marie Curie.

  8. Benjamin Franklin was a celebrity. Among many other things, he came up with the positive/negative charge theory of electricity. That alone qualifies him as a scientist.

  9. Maria Mitchell was obviously a MAN. Its fine, really, just admit it. Just look at the pictures, and NOT the cartoon drawing where she was drawn as an attractive woman. 'She' would have perfectly fit in that Three Stooges episode where they were dressed as women. Damn.

  10. Can I translate this video for portuguese? Put in public translate, please! I need to show this for brazilian girls

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