Book 231: Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy by Mary Brück

9789048124725Finished reading on May 13th

Rating: 10/10

Who were some women who were known for their astronomical observations, calculations or texts? This is what Mary Brück’s book deals with together with how they got their start in astronomy.

The book doesn’t only include women, who made such discoveries as finding new comets etc, but rather also includes women who made a contribution in a different way, maybe by translating a text, writing a commentary on it or writing popular books to spark the interest of young readers.

It is fascinating and at some times a sad book to read – fascinating in the amazing women in portrays, but sad in the challenges and roadblocks that those brilliant and enthusiastic women faced because of being women.

In it you can read about such famous women in science as Caroline Herschel, Mary Somerville, but also of women who might have been working in the shadow of their husband or brother, such as Annie Maunder.

I found it especially interesting how mostly (with the exception being Caroline Herschel’s mother) the families and parents were supportive in these cases, when their daughter/sisters wanted to learn more about astronomy or science in general, and how brothers would  help their sisters in gaining an education in science. The sad part though ofcourse was to read about how a few of them didn’t really get to practice astronomy in the same way after marriage to a not really astronomy-friendly man, or who had to stop the hobby or work for any other reason.

The book provides short biographies of more than twenty intelligent women who took an interest in the stars. It is just sad to think that now they would have totally different lives, there wouldn’t be so many difficulties in their way, but there would still not be an equal number of male and female astronomers or scientists in general.

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Book 60: The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler

PIMG_4970The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe by Arthur Koestler

Finished reading June 27, 2013

Rating 8/10

This rather substantial book deals with some of the best known early astronomers starting from some Pythagoreans and up to  Newton. It gives a good overview of the lives of such astronomers as Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Mikolaj Kopernik and Galileo Galilei. It was interesting and thorough although not totally action-packed so it dragged a bit in some places.

If you have a need to find out about the above-mentioned astronomers, then this would be one of the best books to start with, since here you can also see some of the connections, similarities and differences between their lives and methods.