"leila a. mcneill" blog posts

The struggle of women in science is written in the stars

Posted on: 19 August 2016 | Category: Physics and Chemistry

William and Caroline Herschel

In her 1968 poem, Planetarium, the poet Adrienne Rich wrestles with the crisis of female identity through the lens of astronomy. Rich wrote the poem after learning about the case of Caroline Herschel, an astronomer born in Germany in 1750 who discovered eight comets and three nebulae, and drew praise from the King of Prussia and London’s Royal Astronomical Society. Yet Caroline remained obscure compared with her brother, William, who discovered the planet Uranus.