Astronomer Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon

It was her mother who nurtured a love in young Annie Jump Cannon for astronomy. The two would sit in the attic of the family home and gaze and identify stars at night.

This childhood passion turned into college study. Annie went to Wellesley, where she majored in physics and astronomy and graduated as the valedictorian of her class in 1884.

After graduation she focused on photography. But after her mother passed away in 1894, Annie took a job as a junior physics teacher at Wellesley and began taking courses in astronomy at Radcliffe.

After two years of study, she was hired to catalog and classify stars at the Harvard College Observatory.

There Annie became the best at classifying stars, referred to by some as the census taker of the sky. Her boss at the observatory said that Miss Cannon is the only person in the world – man or woman – who can do this work so quickly.

Over the course of her career, Annie discovered about 300 stars and classified over 350,000.

“Astronomer Annie Jump Cannon” sources: Alexander, Kerri Lee. “Annie Jump Cannon.” National Women’s History Museum, 2020. Accessed October 2nd, 2020 ( / Annie Jump Cannon Wikipedia / Fitzgerald, Helen (18 September 1927). “Counted the Stars in the Heavens”. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. / Harvard University Radcliffe College Archives