August 2023 Star Notes Update

Hello everyone,

This is Sydney, Rhiannon, and Katie, Star Notes and Project PHaEDRA researchers. Happy Summer! We hope you are doing well! Thank you for remaining interested in our work and for volunteering your time to help with our research! As always, we appreciate your effort to learn about the history of women in astronomy, as well as preserve the research of the Harvard College Observatory. 

Office Hours This Month

This month, we are planning to host an office hours meeting! On August 29th, at 2pm ET, we will meet on Zoom for a follow-up discussion about our new instructions for our Smithsonian Transcription Center projects. By Friday, August 18th, the new instructions will be available on the site. On the 29th, we are hoping to answer questions and discuss feedback from volunteers on the new guidance. We hope to see you there! You can register for the meeting here.

Transcription Center Update

On the Smithsonian Transcription Center, volunteers are currently transcribing notebooks belonging to Williamina P. Fleming, Evelyn F. Leland, Muriel Mussells, Sylvia Mussells, and Annie Jump Cannon

Thank you to everyone who attended our Smithsonian Transcription Center Clinic in February, in which we discussed detailed examples and new guidelines for transcribing. You can view a recording of the meeting here

The Smithsonian Transcription Center is holding their monthly office hours on August 18th at 3pm ET, and they will discuss various projects and updates including Project PHaEDRA. We’ll be there! You can register for that meeting here.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions, suggestions for sections to include in the instructions, or general feedback concerning transcription via email at You can also reach out to ask us to reopen completed pages for edits, with specific questions and examples, and anything else you’d like to share!

Featured Volunteer Question

In Muriel & Sylvia Mussels’ notebook titled Variables in LMC (HA 90 #1) 35, on page 4, we noticed that some numbers in the first row of the table were underlined twice, with a heading explaining why: “All variables underlined twice are H.S. Leavitt’s”. We hadn’t seen this before! It was a new formatting consideration. For consistency, and because scans will always be available alongside the transcriptions, we decided to tag them with the same [[underlined]] tag as we’d use for a regular underline, even if slightly different. This is also interesting because these variables are identified as belonging to the astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt. An example of properly crediting your co-researchers! Feel free to email us at if you have any thoughts on this subject. You can also send us an email if you have any questions or observations like this one!

Star Notes Update

The second phase of Star Notes asks volunteers to identify any non-textual material in the PHaEDRA logbooks, including astronomical sketches, graphs, and inserted material. As always, we are available on the talk boards to answer any questions you may have about this workflow, as well as to discuss your interesting new findings! 

Volunteer Credit

If you’re a volunteer looking to get credit for your work on our project, please fill out this Google Form to receive a volunteer confirmation on Center for Astrophysics letterhead (you will need to sign in to a Google account to submit the form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can send an email to As always, if you have any questions for us, or if there’s anything that we can do to help, you can contact us or find us on the talk boards. Have a great month!

Sydney, Rhiannon, & Katie
Project PHaEDRA Team, Wolbach Library 
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
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(image: phaedra2454, “Variables in LMC (HA 90 #1) 35”, pg. 4, Sylvia Mussels & Henrietta Swan Leavitt, 1933)

Sydney Evans
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