Women Astronomers

girl-looking-through-a-telescope-pietro-rotariThis painting of a young woman looking through a telescope is by Pietro Rotari, an Italian painter of the Baroque period.  He was born in Verona.  His career took him from place and he died in 1762 at the age of 55 in St Petersburg where he had traveled to paint for the Russian court.

He painted mostly women–some famous and his work was noted for its realism and beauty.  His art is showcased on this site.  This one struck me, though, because it is of a woman who is expressing and interest in science, specifically, astronomy.  During Rotari’s lifetime, there were notable women astronomers such as Maria Margaretha Kirch, a German who believed that she deserved an education equivalent to that given to young boys in her time.

At an early age, she showed an interest in astronomy and seized the opportunity to study with Christoph Arnold, a self-taught astronomer who worked as a farmer in Sommerfeld, near Leipzig.  She became his unofficial apprentice and later his assistant, living with him and his family.  She married the famous German astronomer and mathematician, Gottfried Kirch.

Maria was the first woman to discover a comet yet the Academy which she had made dedicated two decades of her life making it one of the foremost centres of astronomy, abandoned her after her husband died.  The academy turned down her request for her son to be appointed astronomer and that she be only his assistant. The institute was reluctant to set a precedent and feared ridicule from other institutions.  Maria spent 18 months petitioning the royal court for the position but received a final rejection in 1712.  Bitterly disappointed, she wrote in the preface to one of her publications that a woman could become “as skilled as a man at observing and understanding the skies”.

However, despite the disappointments she encountered in her career, her publications drew the recognition she deserved.  They included her observations on the Aurora Borealis (1707), a pamphlet on the conjunction of the sun with Saturn and Venus (1709), and a pamphlet in which she predicted a new comet (1711).

Nicole-Reine Lepaute was a French astronomer and Mathematician.  Her father was a valet for Louise Élisabeth d’Orléans, the wife of Louis I of Spain.  Nicole was described as precocious and intelligent, being mostly self taught who stayed up all night “devouring” books and read every book in the library.  She married Jean-André Lepaute, a royal clockmaker in the Luxembourg Palace.

At her suggestion and together with Jean-André, constructed a clock with an astronomical function.  The clock was presented to the French Academy of Science in 1753, where it was inspected and approved by Jérôme Lalande, the same man who once said of Nicole, that even as a child “she had too much spirit not to be curious”  She later worked on a book with him and her husband although she didn’t receive authorship.

Lalande recommended that she and along with mathematician, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist,  Alexis Clairault calculate both the predicted return of Halley’s Comet and the attraction of Jupiter and Saturn of the Halley’s comet.  In November 1758, the team presented their conclusion that the comet would arrive on 13 April 1759.  The actual arrival of the comet was 13 March 1759.  Not bad for a prediction and as a result of their calculations, that was the first time scientists had successfully predicted when the comet would cross the point of the comet orbit closest to the Sun.

Sadly, Clairault didn’t recognize Nicole did not recognize her work at all in his work which greatly upset Lalande.  He considered her the “most distinguished female French astronomer ever.”  He acknowledged her help in an article.  Good for him.

Nicole was again a part of Lalande’s team.  This time she worked with him to calculate the ephemeris of the transit of Venus.  While it is not recorded what her contribution to this project was, in 1761, she she was acknowledged by being inducted as an honorary member of the distinguished Scientific Academy of Béziers.   The pair collaborated for fifteen years on the Academy of Science’s annual guides for astronomers and navigators by developing ephemerides: tables that predict the location of the stars on each day of the year.

After her death, Lalande wrote about her contributions to astronomy. In 1762, Lepaute calculated the exact time of a solar eclipse which occurred on 1 April 1764 and wrote an article in which she gave a map of the eclipse’s extent in 15-minute intervals across Europe and predicted the time and percentage each are in Europe would experience.  And for the years 1774-1784, she calculated the ephemeris of the Sun, the Moon and the planets.

Both Maria Margaretha Kirch and Nicole-Reine Lepaute contributed greatly to science and has made it possible for women of all ages, color, nationalities to follow in their footsteps.  Today, we want to take this time to recognize them for their groundbreaking work and give them the credit they deserve.

 

Sources:  The Woman Gallery; Wikipedia; Epigenesys; Encyclopedia; AstroChix

The Unknown God

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Photo:  Joe Walsh Tours

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” – Acts 17:22, 23

One of my favorite sermons of the apostle Paul’s was the one he made at the Areopagus.  When he was in Athens and he saw the idols, he was provoked.  He wasted no time talking to the people, both Jews and Gentiles about Jesus and His resurrection.  That got the attention of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and they were curious about what he was talking about.  Some called him a “babbler” while others perceived that he was preaching about foreign gods.  So, they took him to the Areopagus and asked him, “what this new doctrine is of which you speak?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”  That’s how they spent their time–standing around and telling about or listening to new things.

This was a perfect opportunity for Paul to talk to them about the true God whom they called, “the unknown God”.  So, he stood in their midst and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said would “teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12).  Paul starts out by acknowledging that the people were very religious and that he was considering the objects of their worship.  He mentioned the altar with the inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  He then proceeded to tell them about the God whom they were worshipping in ignorance.

God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything—seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else.” 

Unlike the other gods, we shouldn’t imagine God as being like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. Idols cannot see, hear, talk or move.  They have to be taken up and carried around.  Why would anyone worship gods made by people when they could worship the true, living God? 

Paul informed his audience that “God tolerated man’s past ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone to put away idols and worship only him.  For he has set a day for justly judging the world by the man he has appointed, and has pointed him out by bringing him back to life again” (Acts 17:22:31). 

When he mentioned the resurrection, some of the people laughed but others wanted to hear more.  A few, however, joined him and became believers, among them was Dionysius, a member of the court of Areopagus and a woman named Damaris

When it comes to sharing our faith with others, we will encounter the skeptics and opposition but we will also find those who will believe and accept the message.  What Paul did that day was worth the ones who wanted to hear more and the few who believed.  God will present us with opportunities to tell others about Him.  We just have to be open and willing like Paul.

Sources:  Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible

One o’ These Days/Beyond #writephoto

crossing (1)

Photo by Sue Vincent

 

Beyond them trees is freedom.

One o’ these days, I goin’ walk

through them, with ma head held

high.  That bright light will be

the Lord’s glory shinin’ on me

and the rest of us who been

slaves most o’ our lives.

Yes, one o’ these days, we’s

goin’ taste freedom.  Till

then, I goin’ hang on to

ma faith.

 

This photo made me think of the African slaves and how they must have dreamed of being free one day.  Their faith and hope kept them going.  And this post was also written in response to what I heard today on the radio about the song, That’s Why Darkies Were Born performed by Kate Smith.  Many believe the lyrics to be offensive and as a result, NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers announced they would stop playing her famous rendition of “God Bless America” during games and removed her statue from outside the NHL team’s arena.  The Yankees also cut ties with her.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Beyond at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Change/Renewal #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

I stare out of the window at the sky which looks like it is on fire.  I have never seen anything like it before and I linger for a little while, forgetting for a brief moment my daily struggle to feed three young children and my sick husband.  I push all thoughts of my brothers and their families who are currently enjoying themselves in Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast.  I suppress the bitterness and anger that struggle to rise to the surface as I try not to think about them using my inheritance money for their vacation.

My brothers pressured me to give up my small inheritance entirely.  I could do with that money right now.  They’re spending it on travel while I’m stuck here, taking care of my family.  I should be relaxing on a beach somewhere.  Everyday, I get up, cook, clean, and whatever needs to be done in this house, no matter how tired I am.  My brothers don’t care about me.

Until things change in this country, women like me are going to continue to feel helpless and bitter because of gender inequality in inheritance.  Whereas daughters inherit half of the estate, sons inherit twice as much.   I inherited half because I’m a sole daughter.  Had I sisters, collectively, we would each inherit two thirds.  That hardly seems fair.  When are things going to change?  When is there going to be gender equality in inheritance?

I hear the baby crying.  I wish I could spend a longer time watching the sunrise but duty calls.  I turn and after going over to the bed to check on my husband, I leave the room to tend to our daughter.  I hope that by the time she becomes an adult that there will finally be a change where she will be granted equal inheritance rights.

This story was inspired by an article I read.  In Tunisia, there is a law which limits daughters’ inheritance rights and provides that sons inherit twice as much as daughters.  Equality Now is taking action to change this.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

Source:  Equality Now

 

Ife’s Toilet Crisis

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As Ife cleaned the toilet, she thought of how lucky these people were who could afford to travel and stay in fancy hotels when there were so many people there in Kampala who don’t have the luxury of private toilets.  Her daughter went to a school which didn’t have any toilets.  This meant that she had to use the bushes as a washroom.

Just recently, Ife’s ex-husband was charged and fined when he was caught urinating against a wall outside of a government building because there wasn’t anywhere else to go.  The toilets in buildings were locked and they wouldn’t let people off the streets use them.   She, herself was caught using this one by the Japanese businessman who occupied this suite.  In order for her to keep her job which she needed in order to support her daughter and herself and to use the toilet, she had to agree to his proposition.

She heard him now moving about in the bedroom.  He called out to her.  She flushed the toilet, washed her hands and joined him.  He was lying in the bed, waiting for her.  She took a deep breath and got undressed.

Two hours later, she went home.

200 Words

This story is in recognition of World Toilet Day which is today, Nov. 19.  Apparently, the toilet crisis is most severe in parts of Africa and Asia.  One in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally don’t have any toilets, according to WaterAid.  World Toilet Day addresses the plight of millions who don’t have access to proper access to sanitation and whose lives are at risk.  The goal is to ensure that everyone has access to a safe toilet by 2030.

This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

An International Disgrace

Image result for the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial

I couldn’t believe it when I heard that President Donald Trump cancelled his trip to a cemetery for “Americans killed in World War I, the White House citing bad weather that grounded his helicopter.”  He had been scheduled to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, located adjacent to Belleau Wood and about 100 kilometres northeast of Paris.  It is a site of great importance to the US military.

The cancelled trip drew sharp criticisms from those who felt that the president should have found a way to get to Aisne-Marne, regardless of the weather.  Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser for President Barack Obama, accused Trump of “blowing off honouring American servicemen who died for us”

I agree with Mr. Rhodes.  Those soldiers braved snow, heat, rain and all sorts of conditions while they were fighting for freedom and serving their country.  Weren’t they worth the trip?

President Justin Trudeau visited the Vimy Ridge War Memorial in France and laid a wreath in honour for those who have served.  According to Global News, “Young, fresh-faced Canada sent 424,000 men overseas to fight in the First World War and nearly 61,000 of them were killed on foreign soil, far, far, far away from their homes in their 50-year-old country.  Those Canadians rest now in cemeteries all over Europe and their sacrifice helped forge a nation.”

This Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of World War I and leaders like Trudeau, British Prime Minister Teresa May, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and U.S. President Donald Trump were invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to join him and more than 70 other world leaders in Paris for a special Armistice Day service Sunday, followed by a Peace Forum, where the leaders will discuss issues of international security.

For Trump not to go to the cemetery because of the weather is not only international embarrassment but a disgrace to the men who sacrificed their lives.  They deserve better.  They deserve a leader who would not allow anything to prevent him from visiting their memorial and laying down a wreath in their honor.  This was an international disgrace that may not soon be forgotten.

Sources:   The GuardianCTV News; Global News

Ben’s Vice

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

 

Ruth was concerned about her marriage.  Ben and she hardly spent time together and he had become so withdrawn.  After ten years of marriage, they were growing apart and she couldn’t understand why.

She finished getting dressed for church and went into the living-room where Ben was.  “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

He shook his head.

“Okay, Honey.”  Leaning over, she kissed him on the cheek and then left.

Ten minutes later, he went into the study and switched on the laptop.  The images came up.  Watching them filled him with disgust but he couldn’t help himself.

100 Words

This story was inspired by the true stories of Christian men who are addicted to porn.

This was written for Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details Here.