Astronomer, discovered comet in 1847 (1818-1889)
Maria grew up in the United States, but lived during a time when there were few universities that would allow women to attend. Her family was too poor to send her to one of these universities. Maria taught herself much because she had a job as a librarian and read many books. Maria became talented in math and helped her father, an astronomer, to measure the locations of stars. On October 1st, 1847, Maria noticed a strange white spot when looking through a telescope, and so discovered a comet no one else had seen before. She became famous, and traveled, meeting other scientists and royalty. Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College for women, asked Maria to become the professor of astronomy at the college. Maria was the first person who photographed the sun's surface, and encouraged other women to pursue higher education.
Link: Eclipse Chasing with Maria Mitchell
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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.