The glass universe : how the ladies of the Harvard Observatory took the measure of the stars

by Sobel, Dava,

Format: Print Book 2016
Availability: Available at 23 Libraries 23 of 23 copies
Available (23)
Location Collection Call #
Andrew Bayne Memorial Library Nonfiction 522.1 Sobe
Location  Andrew Bayne Memorial Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.1 Sobe
CLP - Lawrenceville Non-Fiction Collection QB34.5.S63 2016
Location  CLP - Lawrenceville
Collection  Non-Fiction Collection
Call Number  QB34.5.S63 2016
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction QB34.5.S63 2016
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  QB34.5.S63 2016
Carnegie Library of McKeesport Nonfiction 522 So12
Location  Carnegie Library of McKeesport
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522 So12
Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison Non Fiction 522.19 SOBEL
Location  Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  522.19 SOBEL
Community Library of Castle Shannon Non Fiction 522.1 Sobel
Location  Community Library of Castle Shannon
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  522.1 Sobel
Cooper-Siegel Community Library Non-Fiction 522.197 SOB
Location  Cooper-Siegel Community Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.197 SOB
Dormont Public Library Non-Fiction 522.197 S1
Location  Dormont Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.197 S1
Green Tree Public Library Adult Nonfiction 522.19 SOB
Location  Green Tree Public Library
Collection  Adult Nonfiction
Call Number  522.19 SOB
Monroeville Public Library Non-fiction 522.197 SOBEL
Location  Monroeville Public Library
Collection  Non-fiction
Call Number  522.197 SOBEL
Moon Township Public Library Non-Fiction 522.197 SOBEL Dava
Location  Moon Township Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.197 SOBEL Dava
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction 522.19 Sob
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.19 Sob
Northern Tier Regional Library Nonfiction 522.197444092 SOBEL
Location  Northern Tier Regional Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.197444092 SOBEL
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 522.197444 SO1
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.197444 SO1
Penn Hills Library Non-Fiction 522.197 SOB
Location  Penn Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.197 SOB
Pleasant Hills Public Library Nonfiction 522.197 S67
Location  Pleasant Hills Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.197 S67
Scott Township Library Nonfiction 522.1 SOBEL
Location  Scott Township Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.1 SOBEL
Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 522.19 SOB 2016
Location  Sewickley Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.19 SOB 2016
Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction 522.19 S
Location  Shaler North Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522.19 S
South Park Library Nonfiction 522.197 SOB
Location  South Park Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  522.197 SOB
Western Allegheny Community Library Non-Fiction 522 SOB
Location  Western Allegheny Community Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  522 SOB
Whitehall Public Library Nonfiction Collection NF 522.197444 So12
Location  Whitehall Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction Collection
Call Number  NF 522.197444 So12
Wilkinsburg Public Library Nonfiction MODERN HISTORY 522.19 SOB 2016
Location  Wilkinsburg Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  MODERN HISTORY 522.19 SOB 2016
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel, t he "inspiring" ( People ), little-known true story of women's landmark contributions to astronomy

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Sobel (A More Perfect Heaven, 2011) continues her streak of luminous science writing with this fascinating, witty, and most elegant history of the women who worked in critical positions at the Harvard Observatory. Diving deep into the field of astronomy, Sobel shares the stories of the educated, talented, and determined women who sought careers studying the stars in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. With her trademark research of countless diaries, letters, and more, Sobel has gleaned intriguing personal aspects of her subjects' lives, weaving them into the narrative alongside detailed passages describing the work they did studying glass photographic plates of the stars and cataloging thousands of discoveries. Readers with only the most cursory of interest in the night sky will find themselves beguiled by Sobel's prose and invigorated by this long-overlooked history of those whose resolute ambition paved the way for women scientists who followed. With the inclusion of the equally impressive female benefactors who made much of the observatory's work possible, The Glass Universe is a feast for those eager to absorb forgotten stories of resolute American women who expanded human knowledge. Learn these names and celebrate their greatness: Draper, Bruce, Fleming, Maury, Leavitt, Payne, Cannon. And Sobel, who soars higher than ever before. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling popular-science luminary Sobel is a reader magnet, and her latest will get an extra lift as it rides the wave of Hidden Figures and its movie incarnation.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2016 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Acclaimed science writer Sobel (A More Perfect Heaven) casts much-needed light on the brilliant and determined women behind two historic revolutions in astronomy: one scientific, one professional. In the mid-18th century, astronomers employed human "computers" to scan glass photographic plates and perform calculations. Only the Harvard College Observatory, directed by professor Edward Pickering, hired both men and women as computers. The women there-including Williamina Fleming, Antonia Maury, Henrietta Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Cecilia Payne-earned far less than their male counterparts but were eager for the work. As Sobel explains, it was the only way they could do science. Their research led to both the creation of a catalogue of stars still in use today and groundbreaking discoveries in stellar composition, motion, evolution, and a reliable way to calculate interstellar distances. Sobel knows how to tell an engaging story, and this one flows smoothly, with just enough explication of the science. She also reveals the long hours the women worked and their constant search for funding as well as their triumphs of discovery and the eventual acknowledgment of their achievements by their peers and public. With grace, clarity, and a flair for characterization, Sobel places these early women astronomers in the wider historical context of their field for the very first time. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Harvard College Observatory.
Women in astronomy -- Massachusetts -- History.
Women mathematicians -- Massachusetts -- History.
Astronomy -- History -- 19th century.
Astronomy -- History -- 20th century.
Publisher New York, New York :Viking,2016
Language English
Description xii, 324 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 299-305) and index.
ISBN 9780670016952
Other Classic View