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 Tragedy of Divorce

If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind – Shannon L. Adler

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I thought that when George and I tied the knot twenty years ago, it was for keeps.  Was I naive or blinded by love?  I didn’t want to end up like my grandparents and parents whose marriages ended in divorce.  As an only child and grandchild, I wanted to be the exception.  I wanted my marriage to last until either George or I died.  We were happy.  We loved each other.  We had so many wonderful plans for our future and our marriage.  Before having kids, we traveled.

Unfortunately, three kids later, I found out that George was having an affair and when I confronted him, he didn’t deny it.  He told me that he wanted a divorce.  The word was a like a punch in the stomach.  I never thought I would hear it.  I stood there stunned as my whole world crashed down around me.  This can’t be happening, I told myself but it was.  The pain I felt and the expression on his face told me that it this wasn’t a horrible nightmare.  It was really happening.

I pleaded with him not to end our marriage for my sake and the kids’.  I told him that we could go for counseling.  I was desperate.  I was willing to forgive him for his infidelity although it hurt.  But he was adamant.  He wanted a divorce.  Our marriage was over.  He wanted to leave me for her.  Then, he went upstairs and packed a suitcase.

I was served with divorce papers.  The finality hit me and I broke down.  My marriage was over.  My husband whom I thought I would grow old with had left me for a woman half his age.  I hated her.  She had wrecked my marriage and my home.  For years I was filled with bitterness and anger toward George and her.  I longed to make them suffer for what they had done to me.  I fought to prevent him from seeing our kids because I didn’t want them around her.  I didn’t realize how my behavior was affecting them until my daughter became withdrawn and my son was hanging out more at this best friend’s house.  Overcome with guilt and regret, I sobbed as I apologized to them and promised that I would get professional help.  I kept my promise and went for counseling.

One of my friends who also went through a divorce lent me a copy of the book, The Divorce Recovery Workbook which she said helped her.  I’m reading it.  And I’m taking one day at a time.  I’ve let go of my anger and all the toxic emotions that have held me prisoner, ruining my relationship with my kids.  They are doing fine now.  I let them sleep over at their father’s place when they want to.  I’m civil to him whenever we speak and I don’t hate his new wife any more.  I’ve learned, although it hasn’t been easy, to let go and to move on.  Life is too short and I want my kids to be happy.

“When people divorce, it’s always such a tragedy. At the same time, if people stay together it can be even worse” – Monica Bellucci

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Knot.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Source:  Elite Magazine

Chalise

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I’ve tried to get every single memory of you out of my mind but it is like trying not to breathe.  You are all I think about.  Yours is the only face I see or want to see.  You are my past but I still want you to be my present and my future.  This is bloody pathetic, isn’t it?  I have an incredible woman in my life and I’m still hung up on you.

How is this fair to Vanessa?  She’s such a beautiful and amazing woman.  We met two years after you and I broke up.  I wasn’t looking for anything.  The last thing I wanted was to get into another relationship because I was such a wreck.

Before Vanessa, I tried to forget you with other women but that didn’t work.  I tried getting loaded but that didn’t work either and I’ve seen what alcohol did to my father.  I didn’t want to end up like him.  I traveled all over the place, trying to lose myself in the different cultures but that didn’t work either.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t wipe you, your face, your voice, your smell and the feel of you out of my memory.

Then, I met Vanessa and at first, being with her made me feel like a condemned prisoner who had just been pardoned.  For a while, she helped me to forget but then, I heard it–our song.  The song that we used to like to play in the background whenever we made love.  Hearing it again after all that time brought back memories I would rather forget and a longing that I had managed to suppress.  Everything began to unravel and I found myself thinking about you again and longing to be with you.  Vanessa could no longer save me from you or myself.  How can I look her in the face and tell her that I don’t love her?  That I never did?  That I had fooled her and myself into thinking that I did?

I have to face the truth.  I’m still in love with you and I will love you until the day I die.  If you were to tell me now that you want to get back together with me, I would dump Vanessa in a heartbeat.  I know that you’re not dating anyone.  I ask our friends about you.  I can tell that they feel sorry for me.  They think I’m pathetic but I don’t care.  I’m relieved that you’re not dating anyone.  The mere thought of you with another man makes me crazy.   You belong to me, Chalise, just as I belong to you.  Just say the word, and I will come running.  We belong together.  We can make it work this time.  Just say the word.

I just got your text.  My heart is racing.  You want us to hook up this evening at your 725EF-7B72-2D47-7D11-2457E4FE899Aplace.  I can’t wait to see you, Chalise.  My arms ache to hold you and my body yearns to feel yours against it.   I know I’m being a bloody fool but I can’t help it.  Love does crazy things to people and I’m no exception.

I’m supposed to see Vanessa later but I’ll tell her that something urgent came up and I’ll see her tomorrow.  Tomorrow I will break up with her.  She deserves to be with a man who loves her and not me, a man who’s hung up on his ex.  I hope that after this evening, you won’t be my ex anymore but my woman again.    I believe that if two people are meant to be together, eventually they will find their way back to each other.  That’s you and me, Babe.

 

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Memory.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Source:  Heartfelt Quotes

 

 

I Still Enjoy Good Food but…

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I was a gourmand.  Food was my obsession.  I gorged on it every chance I got.  Whenever I traveled, I preferred to pop into the different restaurants and enjoying the different cuisines than go sightseeing.  My friends and family stopped going abroad with me because I always wanted to stop somewhere to eat when they wanted to be on the go.

While they were pounding the pavement in the midday heat, I was in a nice, air conditioned restaurant, enjoying great food. This love for food began when I was in my late teens and continued into my late twenties.  Unlike most of my friends and relatives, I was still single.  I dated a couple of times but the men were turned off because I ate more than they did.

I hardly socialized.  I was used to eating out alone and when I wasn’t doing that, I was at home, reading or watching television while enjoying take out or recipes I tried from the scores of cookbooks I had.  Then, one day,  I looked a really hard look at myself and realized that if I didn’t stop, I was going to eat myself into an early grave.

So, I did what I never thought I would ever do.  I gave away my cookbooks and went on a diet.  I ate mostly fruit, grains and salads.  It wasn’t easy but determination can be a great motivator.  Besides, I wanted to live to a ripe old age like most of my family.

I started going to the gym as well and that’s where I met Peter.  He was the most attractive man in the entire place and I was blown away when he noticed me.  I had lost some weight but still needed to lose a lot more.  Anyway, after weeks of catching each other’s eye, he finally came over and introduced himself.  We spent the rest of my time at the gym together.  Before I left, he asked me out.  I was on cloud nine.  I ran down the sidewalk like a giddy school girl.  It felt great to be going on a date after such a long time.

We went to Spicy Affairs, a vegetarian restaurant (he was vegetarian) and over Mushroom Marsala we talked and laughed.  We had such a wonderful time together that we made other dates.  When we weren’t at the gym together, we were going to the beach for long walks or drives up the coast, the movies, museums and art galleries, all the kinds of things I wasn’t interested in when food was all I cared about.  Now, I have so many other interests and I met a terrific guy who makes me feel beautiful.  It is because of him that I haven’t lost all of my chubbiness.

Did I forget to mention that we’re engaged?  Oh yes, he popped the question yesterday when we were taking our regular stroll along the beach.  That photo you see of us was taken after I said YES!   Every time  I look at it, I am ever so thankful that I had the good sense to turn my life around.  I still enjoy food but not as excessively as before and besides, I have Peter to keep me in line.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Gourmand.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.