STARRED REVIEW
December 2016

A celebrated female astronomer

By Dava Sobel
Dava Sobel, best known for such remarkable books as Galileo’s Daughter and Longitude, chronicles the groundbreaking careers of several little-known women scientists in The Glass Universe.
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Dava Sobel, best known for such remarkable books as Galileo’s Daughter and Longitude, chronicles the groundbreaking careers of several little-known women scientists in The Glass Universe

Sobel begins her story in 1882 at a glittering dinner party held by Dr. Henry Draper and his wife, Anna Palmer Draper. Dr. Draper, a physician and amateur astronomer, died five days later, leaving Anna with a deep desire to continue his work. 

Her support, along with that of fellow heiress Catherine Wolfe Bruce, made it possible for women such as Antonia Maury, Williamina Fleming and Cecilia Payne (who earned Harvard’s first Ph.D. in astronomy) to work at the Harvard Observatory and contribute to the discoveries of the day.

One of the pleasures of seeing history through Sobel’s eyes is her delectable prose and her ability to realize scenes from the past. Her new book is a compelling read and a welcome reminder that American women have long desired to reach for the stars.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Glass Universe

The Glass Universe

By Dava Sobel
Viking
ISBN 9780670016952

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