#WomenInSTEMWednesday: Caroline Herschel

caroline herschel

Kevlar last week and this week we’re back up in space! This week’s #WomenInSTEM takes us back to the 18th century: Caroline Herschel.

Growing up, her dad wanted each of his children to study music and some philosophy but Caroline’s mother wanted her to be a homemaker and wife to someone. While she was learning the ways of the house, her dad would sometimes teach her some of the same studies as her brothers: music, philosophy and French.

Before she was a teenager, she contracted typhus and almost died. The disease ended up stunting her growth, worrying her mother that she would no longer be attractive as a wife. Instead, she was trained to be a scholarly maid so she could do the same work but get paid for it.

In 1771, her brother William Herschel invited her to come live with him as a house-keeper. Eventually, she would sing with him while he played the organ as an accomplished musician in London. Caroline worked with her brother in their spare time on astronomical pursuits leading to William giving her a telescope.

She identified and cataloged different clusters and galaxies until August 1st, 1786 when she spotted a comet. This discovery made her the FIRST WOMAN credited with discovering a comet! After this, she would also become the first woman to be paid as a professional scientist in Great Britain.

After that first discovery, she helped expand the known star clusters from 100 to 2500 and in just 10 years after the comet, she identified SEVEN more! Today, there are comets, asteroids and even a lunar crater named after her!

Great job Caroline! #WomenInSTEMWednesday

P.S. Thanks to “Stuff You Missed in History Class” for giving me the idea for this week’s and for some of the information.

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