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Maria Mitchell

Learn more about Maria Mitchell on Wikipedia or read her biography at the Vassar Encyclopedia website. A site search of the Vassar College website will yield the article, "Eclipse Chaser," which describes her trip to Colorado to observe the eclipse of 1878.

The home of Maria Mitchell on Nantucket Island, from which she sighted her comet in 1847, now houses a museum.

The book, Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer among the American Romantics by Renee Bergland (Boston: Beacon Press, 2008), devotes a chapter, "The Undevout Astronomer (pp 211-223)," to Mitchell's Unitarianism and particularly how it branded her a radical during her years at Vassar College. The chapter provides quotations from Mitchell that reveal her questioning spirit. For example, Mitchell told her students:

We cannot accept anything as granted beyond the first mathematical formulae. Question everything else.

The quotations also portray the way Mitchell's intense scientific and spiritual quests intersected. For example, Mitchell wrote:

We must face the light and not bury our heads in the Earth. I am hopeful that scientific investigation pushed on and on will reveal new ways in which God works and bring us to deeper revelations of the wholly unknown. The physical and the Spiritual seem at present separated by an impassable gulf, but at any second that gulf may be overleapt, possibly a new revelation may come.

Magnifying Glass Hands-on Experiments

The games, Sun Bursts and Light Write (Activity 4: The Power of Magnification), come from The Outrageous Outdoor Games Book by Bob Gregson (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003).

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