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Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe (Great Discoveries) Paperback – June 17, 2006
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Photography became a great help in astronomy, and eventually Harvard had a half million glass plates that were a precise a record of the night sky. But this was very raw data. To analyze the images, the director of the Harvard observatory, Edward Pickering, employed computers.Read more ›
Miss Henrietta Leavitt died in 1921. Working for years at the Harvard College Observatory under the noted astronomer Edward Pickering, this nearly forgotten observatory assistant, a 'computer' (one that does computations by hand), provided a tool critical to unraveling the most basic question facing astronomers in the early twentieth century. Was the Milky Way essentially the entire universe, or was the Milky Way just one of many large clusters of stars? These hypothetical clusters went by various names: island universes, nebulae, and galaxies.
How could one demonstrate that some stars were in a nearby cluster, while others were actually much farther away? Triangulation methods, a trigonometric approach, only worked for the sun and a few nearby stars. Is a dim star a bright star that is far away, or is a dim star simply a dim star that is nearby?
This short book, Miss Leavitt's Stars, is less biography, and more history and science than the title might suggest. Too little is known about Henrietta Leavitt herself. We do know that Miss Leavitt carefully analyzed the brightness of variables stars (those that brighten and dim over some period) in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Subsequently, she discovered a remarkable relationship between the brightness of individual stars and the lengths of their periods. The brighter the variable star, the longer the period. Furthermore, since the Magellanic variables are probably all about the same distance from the earth, their periods are apparently associated with their actual light emission.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Miss "Leavitt's Stars" is a book I had wanted to read for a long time. I expected it to be a biography of Miss Leavitt. Read morePublished 9 months ago by J. Lawler
I ordered the book from my Kindle, and the content was wirelessly delivered. The format of the content was jumbled. Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Kent Price
I found this to be a wonderful read. It gives you an insite to those who worked so hard in the field of astronomy without proper recognition. Read morePublished on August 10, 2013 by Charles S.
I am not one to normally write a negative review, but I was really disappointed in this book. My disappointment was not due to the author's skills however. Read morePublished on January 7, 2010 by Jim
Henrietta Leavitt was an incredible individual. She made some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy during the 20th century, however, very little has been written about her... Read morePublished on October 17, 2007 by Paul Curnow
This book should be a must read for any high school or college Astronomy
or natural science class. Its an easy read (few hours) of the remarkable
Ms. Read more
Proper and overdue credit is paid in this book to Henrietta Leavitt, but the story the author tells is more the story of two generations of astronomers from Edward Pickering to... Read morePublished on October 18, 2006 by Gio