Look Up!

Look Up! : Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer

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Henrietta Levitt was the first person to discover the scientific importance of a star's brightness--so why has no one heard of her? Learn all about a female pioneer of astronomy in this picture book biography. Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born on July 4, 1868, and she changed the course of astronomy when she was just twenty-five years old. Henrietta spent years measuring star positions and sizes from photographs taken by the telescope at the Harvard College Observatory, where she worked. After Henrietta observed that certain stars had a fixed pattern to their changes, her discovery made it possible for astronomers to measure greater and greater distances--leading to our present understanding of the vast size of the universe. An astronomer of her time called Henrietta Leavitt "one of the most important women ever to touch astronomy," and another close associate said she had the "best mind at the Harvard Observatory." Henrietta Leaveitt's story will inspire young women and aspiring scientists of all kinds and includes additional information about the solar system and astronomy.show more

Product details

  • 6-8
  • Hardback | 32 pages
  • 220.98 x 281.94 x 12.7mm | 453.59g
  • Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • New York, NY, United Kingdom
  • English
  • colour illustrations
  • 1416958193
  • 9781416958192
  • 317,023

Review quote

When Henrietta Leavitt graduated from Radcliffe College in 1892, women were not seen as potential scientists. Still, she accepted a rather tedious job measuring the positions and sizes of stars in images photographed using the Harvard College Observatory telescope. Besides measuring and note-taking, she analyzed the records on certain stars that appeared to blink on and off. Her discovery that the time between blinks indicated both the star's brightness and its distance from Earth led to the realization that the universe was much larger than previously thought. Focusing on the life of the mind, the text is contemplative and the illustrations are understated. In childhood, Leavitt is shown gazing at the night sky; as an adult, her most active endeavor is a sedate walk. Still, the writing celebrates her achievement, and the lovely artwork, set outdoors at night or indoors by day, includes yellow, tan, and white elements that are luminous within the dimly lit scenes. A worthy picture book with informative back matter that will help children understand Leavitt's challenging times as well as her achievement.show more
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