The sundial of Huesca pays tribute to the women who contributed to the development of astronomy

The sundial of Huesca pays tribute to the women who contributed to the development of astronomy

Its unveiling marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Today, February 11, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the Spanish city of Huesca has found a creative way to draw attention to the pioneering contributions of women in the field of astronomy.

Earlier today, city officials unveiled the Sundial “Hypatia of Alexandria” at the entrance to the esplanade of the Planetarium of Aragon. It is named after the Egyptian polymath scientist and inventor of the hydrometer, who lived in 5and century.

Other women scientists will receive symbolic recognition

The sundial is a simple monument but a powerful reminder and reference to the historical contribution of women scientists to the development of astronomy. Each of its plates was marked with a name.

  • Sophia Brahe (16and-17and centuries, Denmark): She worked on the calculation of orbits and orbital periods of different celestial bodies, compiling a catalog of planetary movements and positions;
  • Asuncion Catalan Poch (20and-21st centuries, Spain): Professor at the University of Barcelona, ​​she worked on the research of the solar system and various orbital calculations. She is considered the first female professional astronomer in Spain;
  • Katherine Coleman G. Johnson, (20and-21st centuries, United States): An African-American mathematician, she calculated the trajectory and splash window for astronaut Alan Shepard’s first suborbital flight and validated the equations that would control the trajectory of John Glenn’s orbital flight;
  • Caroline Lucrecia Herschel, (18and-19and centuries, Germany): She worked as an “assistant” and opened up new avenues of research that led her to discover three new nebulae. Her scientific publication is recognized as the first with a female signature. She cataloged up to 560 new stars in her time and is the first astronomer credited with having discovered a comet, C/1786 P1 -Herschel-;
  • Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming, (19and-20and centuries, Scotland and the United States): She cataloged 10,000 stars and sighted 300 more as well as novae, nebulae, white dwarfs and other types of celestial bodies. In her cataloging work, she encouraged various students to pursue this task:
  • En’heduana, (23rd century BC, Babylon (modern Iraq)): She is considered the first female astronomer. As High Priestess of the Moon God, she was the only one who could establish laws. She directed several temples which served as astronomical observatories and created the first religious calendars, some of which are still in force;
  • Marie Korsaga, (20and-21st centuries, Burkina Faso): Doctor in astrophysics for his thesis “The distribution of dark and visible matter in spiral and irregular galaxies”. She works at the Institute of Astrophysics of Marseille and at the Office of Astronomy for Development. She founded FeB-STIM (Burkinabe Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). She has several science popularization projects for different parts of her country and other Africans.
  • Fatima from Madrid, (10and century, Al-Andalus (current Spain)): Although there is no other news about her existence than the work “The Corrections of Fátima”, or the “Treatise on the Astrolabe” referenced to her as author, it is believed that she could have been the daughter of Maslama al-Majriti, a famous Andalusian astronomer;
  • Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, (19and-20and centuries, England/USA): She was the first female professor of astronomy at Harvard University. She also became director of the department. She demonstrated that the Sun is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium gas, a discovery ahead of its time and the claims of other scientists;
  • Paris Pishmish, (20th century, Turkey/Mexico): She was the first professional female astronomer in Mexico. She compiled the “Pismis” catalog of 22 open star clusters and two globular clusters in the southern hemisphere. She worked at the National Astronomical Observatory of Tacubaya and left more than 100 disciples, who continue her work;
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt, (19and-20and centuries, USA/England): While at the Harvard College Observatory, studying photographic plates on Cepheids (variable-luminosity stars), she discovered a pattern: Cepheids pulsed variably, with greater luminosity the greater the rate of heartbeat was high. This therefore facilitated the measurement of distances in the Universe;
  • Valentina Tereshkova (20and-21st centuries, USSR/Russia): In 1963, she became the first woman to travel in outer space, logging 70 flight hours and 48 trips around Earth’s orbit. The program that took Yuri Gagarin into space had only started two years earlier. She embarked solo on Vostok Flight 6 and had to vary the ship’s course from the inside, due to ground control miscalculations, in order to return safely and land.

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