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this week ~ astronomy
august 7, 2015

Look at a star in the sky not as something unreachable but as a planet you would visit one day.
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starry nights

Next week is the peak of Perseids ~ a stunning summer meteor shower trailing from the Comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits around the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll be able spot up to 60 shooting stars per hour. That’s a lot of wishes!

The lovely colors we see streak across the night sky are not, in fact, stars. They’re tiny bits of debris ~ no bigger than a grain of sand ~ that burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Space is a wonder worth sharing. So are the stories of these quintessential stargazers, astronomers who’ve given us stellar views of the universe at large.


Maria Mitchell
the celebrated comet discover

Maria Mitchell_newsletter

"The more we see, the more we are capable of seeing."
source it!

~ a Nantucket librarian + teacher taught to use a telescope by her father

~ the US’s first female professional astronomer

~ an abolitionist and founder + president of the American Association for the Advancement of Women

On October 1, 1847, Maria Mitchell spotted a new comet while scanning the night sky from her backyard. The discovery scored her a gold medal from the King of Denmark + props as the first woman elected to the exclusive American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rolling her hobby into a trailblazing trade, Maria {pronounced ma-RYE-ah} went on to study the surfaces of the Sun, Jupiter + Venus. In 1865, she was recruited to be Vassar’s very first fulltime prof. The much-loved educator {who successfully fought for equal pay} was famous for hosting parties in the college’s observatory dome.

Maria was especially eager for female science students to make contributions through original research. Her perennial question to protégées? “Did you learn it from a book, or did you observe it yourself?” Explore more of Maria’s pointed + far-seeing observations...

Maria Mitchell

Vera Rubin
the bright scientist of dark matter

Vera Rubin_newsletter.jpg

"Each one of you can change the world, for you are made of star stuff, and you are connected
to the universe."

source it! Vera Rubin

~ the only astronomy major in Vassar College’s Class of ’48

~ an observational cosmologist who was the first to confirm the existence of dark matter in the 1970s

~ a senior fellow in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at DC’s Carnegie Institution of Washington + mother of 4 science PhDs

Dr. Vera Rubin has studied more than 200 of the universe’s 100 billion galaxies. But, the finding she’s most famous for is not about stars; it’s about the mysterious stuff between them. Even though “dark matter” makes up most of the universe’s mass, scientists still don’t know what it is. Vera’s conclusions go to show that space is more complex than we can imagine.

This visionary also shone light on work-life balance when there were few women in her field. Rejected from Princeton 25 years before the Ivy Leaguer’s astronomy grad program began accepting female students, Vera attended Cornell + Georgetown while raising 2 young sons.

Many think gender bias stood in the way of Vera becoming a Nobel laureate. The astronomer herself cares more about the impact of her research than fame or accolades. Discover more about the numbers that Vera hopes outlast her name...

Vera Rubin

Maggie Aderin-Pocock
the face of space

Maggie Aderin-Pocock_newsletter.jpg

"You don't need a big brain the size of a planet, or mad hair. You need a passion to understand things."
source it! Maggie Aderin-Pocock

~ a native Londoner born to Nigerian emigrants

~ a mechanical engineer who’s worked on everything from missile-warning systems to optical instruments to telescopes 27 feet in diameter

~ a BBC presenter on the long-running astronomy program The Sky at Night + research fellow at University College London

Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock grew up expecting to follow Neil Armstrong to the Moon. Dyslexia + an education split between 13 schools got in the way of her early ambitions. Today, she’s found a new calling ~ helping others realize their childhood dreams as a leading “science communicator.”

In 2004, Maggie founded Science Innovation Limited to give inner-city kids eye-opening “tours of the universe.” She’s been sparking students’ “desire to aspire” ever since. After all, as an advocate for commercial investment in space exploration, Maggie believes they’re part of a generation that realistically may be able to reach the Moon...

Maggie likes sharing the wonders of space with older folks, too. Her recs for adults taking in the Perseids? Go to a place protected from streetlights. Bring along a glass of white wine. Ditch the binocs ~ you want the widest view possible. Lie back + enjoy the show!

Hear more stargazing tips from the space scientist who plans to retire on Mars...

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

guiding stars
Read up on astronomy + shoot for the moon. Each book you order through Quotabelle helps us discover more stars.
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"Studying whether there's life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there's something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge." 
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from our #citeseers
Social media straight from the International Space Station...shared by the Italian astronaut who {as of June 2015} holds the women’s record for the longest space flight...

On Earth, like on ISS, water is limited: let's use it wisely. We're all crew of spaceship Earth. Snack time is a great opportunity to put the right rocket fuel in your body. And, as always, don’t panic—eating healthy is not rocket science.

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