“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.”
Born in 1818 in Massachusetts, Maria Mitchell is known as the first professional female astronomer in the United States. On October 1, 1847, she peered through her family’s telescope and “swept around for comets,” as she did every night it was clear. But that night she became the first woman in the U.S. to discover one, and received worldwide fame and a gold medal from King Frederick VI of Denmark.
She later became the first professor of astronomy at Vassar College, where she is remembered as emphasizing the importance of observation to her students, often asking, “Did you learn that in a book or observe it yourself?”