Astronomy is a very old science and mankind from his beginning, has always showed an interest in the stars. Long before the invention of the GPS, the stars have guided us. With all the technology we have at our disposal, some people still look to the stars to find north.
Whether we read old encyclopaedias or the modern online ones, we’ll see that there is scarcely a mention of the notable role that women have played in the development of astronomy. We all know names like Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton and it may seem that women were not interested in it, but it’s quite the opposite: in the fourth century Hypatia of Alexandria, (the main character of the film Agora), contributed to the development of this science, as well as writing texts on geometry and algebra. She also improved the ancient astrolabes. The astrolabe was an instrument that was used to determine where the stars are positioned.
Throughout the course of history many women got involved in the world of astronomy while collaborating with their husbands or relatives. In Germany, for example, this practice was very common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. An important figure of the German astronomy at that time was Maria Cunitz (1610-1664) who through her work Propicia Urania, tried to bring the astronomy of Kepler closer to the youth. In the eighteenth century it is important to mention Caroline Herschel, a German astronomer, who discovered and catalogued eight comets and three nebulae. Herschel, along with another astronomer called Mary Somerville (1782-1872), was the first woman to enter the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.
There is also a list of many other prominent figures such as: Henrietta S. Leavitt (1868-1921), Willimina Fleming (1857-1911), Mariel Mitchel (1818-1889), Cecilia Helena Payne (1900-1979), Margaret Burbidge (1919-),Vera Rubin (1928-). One of the characters of modern astronomy is undoubtedly the Scot Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943), who studied at Cambridge University and between 2001 and 2004 was president of the Royal Astronomical Society. Other noted work is from the Italian astronomer Margherita Hack.
If you love astronomy and you would like to expand your knowledge, you have until March 14th to combine a pleasant trip with a visit to a unique exhibition: “Con A de Astrónomas”, that will be held at La Casa de la Ciencia de Sevilla and where you can immerse yourself in the female world of astronomy. Forget about the expensive hotels and rent Apartments in Seville and enjoy this beautiful city to the fullest.