This is Sydney and Nico, Star Notes researchers. We hope you are all doing well, and that the start of this year has treated you well! As always, thank you for remaining interested in our work and for volunteering your time to help with research and learn about the history of women in astronomy.
We are excited to announce that we will be hosting a book club this Spring! In March, April, and May, we will be using our monthly office hours (2nd Tuesdays at 2pm ET) to discuss books about the history of women in astronomy and space science. We will discuss the following books: The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel in March, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly in April, and Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt in May. For each book, we will be focusing discussion on a specific chapter, so if you don’t have time to read the entire book, you can still participate! In March, we will be discussing chapter six of The Glass Universe which is largely based on information from Williamina’s Fleming’s journal for the “Chest of 1900” time-capsule project at Harvard. Future updates and more information on the book club will be posted on the Star Notes talk board, on our website, and in future newsletters.
Additionally, we will be holding a virtual office hour this month on Tuesday, February 8th, at 2pm ET. The Project PHaEDRA team will start with a few updates on the status of the project before opening the office hour up to general Q&A and discussion. Please register here to receive the Zoom link by email.
We here at Project PHaEDRA are also excited to share information about an art exhibit inspired by the work of the Harvard College Observatory women computers. Lia Halloran, an artist, and Dava Sobel, author of The Glass Universe, have collaborated to set up an installation of Halloran’s “Your Body is a Space that Sees” in Terminal 1 of the Los Angeles International Airport. These works will remain on view for the next year. Halloran’s art exhibit includes cyanotypes honoring Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Leavitt, Williamina Fleming, and other woman astronomers of the Harvard Computers. From Halloran’s website on the pieces: “Cyanotypes are printed from painted negatives that are based on the objects and narratives that were connected to these early astronomers. This process mimics early astronomical glass plates moving between transparent surfaces to a photograph without the use of a camera.” The installation includes photos and a replica glass plate along with the cyanotypes. This represents the original source material that the Harvard Computers studied to make their discoveries. Lia Halloran and Dava Sobel did their research for this collaboration and for their individual work at the Harvard College Observatory Plate Stacks and the Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. We hope you will be able to examine these beautiful prints in person and observe the incredible history they are inspired by, and read more about these two very accomplished researchers. You can view pictures of the exhibit online on our Instagram page.
Currently, the notebooks we are using for transcription of plate numbers for Star Notes belong to Susan Raymond. The notebooks we are using for transcription of all note content for Project PHaEDRA belong to Evelyn F. Leland and Williamina P. Fleming.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 and a great start to your year!
Sydney and Nico
Star Notes Team
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics