What is Annie Jump Cannon famous for that made her to be honored with Google Doodle during her 151st birthday?
There are just many facts to know about Cannon and before we even go discussing about Annie Jump Cannon’s discoveries including many interesting facts about her, let’s first look at some of the recent trending topics about Cannon.
One of the best things about Google search is the Google Doodle, the artwork above the search box which is often related to historical events or figures – the art is almost universally high quality and quite often, there’s an opportunity to learn something new.
This month (December, 2014), Google’s choice to honor the astronomical pioneer Annie Jump Cannon generated a lot of interest in this sadly little known (outside of scientific circles, of course) astronomer.
Concerning Annie Jump Cannon Cosmos, it was in April 2014 that Fox’s television science-themed show (“Cosmos”) honored Cannon and Cecilia Payne as female astronomers.
Precisely, “Sisters of the Sun” is the “eighth episode of the American documentary television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” which was aired on Fox television on 28 April 2014. On that episode, Annie Jump Cannon was voiced by Marlee Matlin.
Cannon Honored With Google Doodle, YouTube Video
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Annie Jump Cannon Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About
With any luck, the story of Annie Jump Cannon will help generate a renewed interest in the field of astronomy and increase the number of young people who seek out a career in the sciences; something which would have no doubt pleased Cannon.
Some of the facts that we are going to discuss here at blogging income lifestyle blog about Annie Jump Cannon are not only interesting but it could be your first time that you’re coming across such facts.
Cannon’s Early Years
Born in Dover, Delaware in 1863, Annie Jump Cannon was the oldest of the three children of Delaware state senator Wilson Cannon and his wife, Mary Jump. Regarding Annie Jump Cannon childhood, she had suffered hearing loss.
Nothing much has been told pertaining to Annie Jump Cannon’s siblings.
It was Cannon’s mother who spurred her interest in science, teaching her about the constellations and encouraging her to pursue a scientific education at Wellesley, where she studied astronomy and physics.
- Related: Annie Jump Cannon Biography
The young scientist flourished here, studying under Sarah Frances Whiting (among the few female physicists in the country back in 1880) and graduating as valedictorian with a degree in physics.
Cannon was known for immersing herself in her studies and later, her work – possibly due to the fact that she had largely lost her hearing in her youth, making social interactions somewhat difficult.
Unfortunately, at the time, few job opportunities in Cannon’s field were available to women and she returned home to Delaware after graduation and stayed there for ten years.
However, she certainly wasn’t idle during this time; she travelled abroad and became a skilled photographer, publishing a pamphlet of photos and prose from her travels through Spain which was given away as a souvenir to visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
Annie Jump Cannon never had any children and she was never married.
A Door Opens
After the death of her mother in 1894, Professor Sarah and Annie Jump Cannon would then work at Wellesley College. This is after Cannon wrote to professor Whiting at Wellesley to inquire about the possibility of working at the university, which led to a position as junior physics professor.
While teaching at Wellesley, Cannon took graduate level astronomy and physics courses and inspired by Whiting, began to study spectroscopy, something which would change the course of her career and of the science of astronomy.
To further her astronomical studies, Cannon attended the Harvard-affiliated Radcliffe College, which gave her the ability to use the Harvard Observatory. This soon led to Cannon being hired by Edward C. Pickering; and her work with Pickering would revolutionize the field.
At one time, she was criticized together with other women at the Observatory for not being housewives. Critics referred to them as being “out of their place.”
Pickering’s Women and Annie Jump Cannon’s Contributions to Astronomy
Edward C. Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory at the time, was well known for his habit of hiring largely women, which allowed him to hire more staff without straining his department’s budget due to the much greater wage disparity between men and women in the late 19th century.
One of these women was of course Annie Jump Cannon and it was here that her work would be vital to the modern system of stellar classification.
Cannon, Pickering and other Harvard Observatory staff members including Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Antonia Maury and Willamina Fleming developed the Harvard Classification Scheme, the beginning of contemporary classification of stars.
The chief project at the Harvard Observatory at the time was the completion of the Henry Draper Catalogue, which was intended to map and classify each star visible at the time to photographic magnitude of roughly 9.
The project was funded by Anna Draper, whose late husband was Henry Draper, an amateur astronomer. Part of this project under Pickering’s direction was classifying stars by optical spectra; Cannon came up with a classification system based on her spectroscopic expertise.
These classes were determined by measuring Balmer absorption lines (which are related to the temperature of stars) and are still used today: O, B, A, F, G, K, M – Cannon’s mnemonic for the classes was “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me.” The first spectra catalog using Cannon’s data was published in 1901.
Cannon Wins Recognition for Her Work
Cannon’s solid work ethic and ability to work with scientists abroad made her something of an ambassador for the field. She served as a representative of female professionals at the Chicago World’s Fair and wrote articles and books which popularized astronomical science.
Over her 40 year career, Cannon classified and catalogued around half a million stars and discovered five novas, a spectroscopic binary system and a staggering 300 variable stars, achievements which have yet to be surpassed almost a century later.
Cannon was so skilled that she could classify stars at the astounding rate of three per minute. Another of Annie Jump Cannon’s discoveries is the composition of stars. Working with fellow astronomer Cecilia Payne, she found that stars were largely made up of hydrogen and helium.
Annie Jump Cannon Awards and Honors In Astronomy
Over her 40 years in the field, Cannon was the recipient of numerous awards, degrees and recognitions, including being the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford, the first woman elected to a position as an officer of the American Astronomical Society (which gives an annual Annie Jump Cannon Award to female astronomers).
Her calm and hardworking attitude and demeanor helped her gain respect throughout her lifetime and paved the path for future women astronomers.
A street is named after her in Tonantzintla, Mexico (near the INAOE observatory), as is a residence hall at the University of Delaware, a crater on the moon and the asteroid 1120 Cannonia.
Annie Jump Cannon Quotes
1.) “Classifying the stars has helped materially in all studies of the structure of the universe.”
2.) “No greater problem is presented to the human mind.”
3.) “Teaching man his relatively small sphere in the creation, it also encourages him by its lessons of the unity of Nature and shows him that his power of comprehension allies him with the great intelligence over-reaching all.”
Annie Jump Cannon Drawings
On the internet, Annie Jump Cannon drawings and posters are available. Of course, there are people who are willing to purchase them.
It’s one way of remembering and appreciating Annie Jump Cannon as an American female astronomer.
Her work continues to inspire scientists today – and with Google shining a light on this pioneering American astronomer, she’ll continue to do so for generations to come.
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