Harvard College Observatory Women's Team

Harvard College Observatory Women's Team

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Harvard College Observatory Women's Team. Group portrait of Edward Charles Pickering (1846-1919), US astronomer, and his team of female "computers" photographed on 13th May 1913. Pickering became Director of Harvard College Observatory (HCO) in 1877. Soon after this he dismissed his slipshod team of male assistants employed to catalogue and analyse photographic plates of the night sky and replaced them with women. This unorthodox move paid off as the women did a much more thorough job and made a number of significant breakthroughs. Their achievements included determining the composition of stars, finding a method for measuring the distances of stars and creating a stellar classification system. During its time at HCO the team identified nearly 400,000 stars.

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