The Glass Universe

The Glass Universe

How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars

Large Print - 2017 | Large print edition.
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In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators to interpret the observations male astronomers made via telescope. As photography transformed astronomy, the ladies turned 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 enabled the women to help make extraordinary discoveries, such as discerning what stars were made of, categorizing stars for further research, and measuring distances across space by starlight. Book jacket.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, 2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781410495716
Branch Call Number: Large Print 522.19744409252 Sob
Characteristics: 569 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Maria Mitchell noted way before this happened that women are particularly suited to astronomy, as a result of their training with detail-oriented work such as embroidery, the skills of which could be transferred over.

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Aug 06, 2017

Hard to say if book optioned as movie by HBO or Disney given underdog style & tedious work akin to accounting.
Still good group biography & huge impact on astronomy.
Today data stored in computer. However, glass pictures still useful. EMP-proof.

Jun 20, 2017

It's a group portrait, so especially toward the end, you get a better idea of the overall program than the individual women, but the book is an important contribution to the history of science.

Jan 07, 2017

Writer Dava Sobel pulls from obscurity women of science who worked at the Harvard College Observatory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 'computing' the stars. If you've been fascinated by starry nights and like learning of unheralded women who made a difference, this is a book to read. It, at times, gets detailed classifying stars, but it's easy to skim a bit!

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