'Cosmos' recap: Science is more than a boys club

Jennifer Ouellette – Los Angeles Times – Tuesday, 29 April 2014 (originally published 28 Apr)

astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the team of Harvard University female astronomers
Host Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of 20th century Harvard University astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the team of Harvard University female astronomers who cataloged the stars in the all-new “The Sisters of The Sun” episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.” (Fox / April 27, 2014)

Ask most people to name a famous scientist and — assuming they don’t draw a blank — they will likely cite Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking or possibly Cosmos host Neil de Grasse Tyson. You know, someone with high name recognition. And that someone will probably be male.

There was a bit of grumbling among the geekerati several weeks ago over the Cosmos episode “A Sky Full of Ghosts.” It featured animated sequences with father-son astronomers John and William Herschel, but made no mention of John’s sister, Caroline, who helped John catalog his many astronomical observations and discovered a comet all her own.

Alas, it is done, and far too often. This week’s episode of Cosmos, “Sisters of the Sun,” attempts to rectify the relative obscurity of women in science by focusing on three female astronomers who defied the social conventions of the early 20th century to enhance our understanding of the stars in the sky. . .

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