In this lesson, you will find links to resources about the astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt. Leavitt was an American astronomer and graduate of Radcliffe College. She worked at the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) as a “computer”, examining glass photographic plates in order to measure and catalog the brightness, or magnitude, of stars. This work led her to discover the relation between the luminosity and the period of brightening/dimming of Cepheid variables. Leavitt’s discovery provided astronomers with the first “standard candle” with which to measure the distance to faraway galaxies.
These online resources include biographies, videos, images, research, and articles. These resources can be used as an introduction into the life of Leavitt and her work.
Keywords: Harvard Computers, astronomy, women in STEM, Project PHaEDRA, John G. Wolbach Library, Center for Astrophysics