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This profile was last updated on 3/1/06  and contains information from public web pages.

Edward Pickering Fleming

Wrong Edward Pickering Fleming?

Curator of Astronomical Photograp...

Email: e***@***.edu
Harvard University
University Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
United States

Company Description:
Web References
Scotsman.com Heritage & Culture - Scotland's People - Miss Universe
heritage.scotsman.com, 1 Mar 2006 [cached]
And, at the turn of the century, when Fleming had established her reputation, she was working 60-hour weeks for $1,500 a year, far less than a newly employed male assistant.Fleming, who was paying for her son to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was by no means happy about the pay gap, and expressed her annoyance in her diary.
Among her notable achievements - despite having no formal training in astronomy - was a way of classifying stars into 17 different types, which was later named the Pickering-Fleming System.In 1886, she was in charge of a project to classify thousands of stars by the spectrum of light they produced.Four years later, the Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra was published, detailing 225,000 stars in nine volumes.Fleming discovered a new and easy way of identifying stars of varying brightness, which proved vital to astronomy, and also selected stars that shone with a constant light to act as comparisons, developing "the first photographic standard for determining the magnitude of star brightness".
She also discovered 94 of the 107 Wolf-Rayet stars known at the time; these are "superluminous stars" in which helium, rather than hydrogen, plays the bigger part.In 1898, in recognition of her considerable work, she was appointed curator of astronomical photographs at Harvard.In 1910 she published a paper detailing her discovery of "white dwarfs", very hot stars that tend to have a bluish-white colour, which are thought to be stars in the final stages of their existence.
Perhaps her biggest role, though, was as a trailblazer for women in astronomy.Fleming had been put in charge of the female computers of Pickering's Harem in the mid-1880s and also become the editor of all the observatory's publications - a role she disliked, because it got in the way of real astronomy.
Then, in 1893, at the Chicago World's Fair, she made a landmark speech about women working in astronomy.
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Another notable member of the team was Annie Jump Cannon who, on the death of Fleming, succeeded her and later became the first woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University.
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The success of these women and others among the computers can perhaps be partly put down to the example set by Fleming and the way she led the team.At Harvard, she was said to have been "remembered by her friends and colleagues as a person with a highly magnetic personality and attractive countenance".
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