AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 58 Stellar Personalities
HAD Oral, Monday, 2:30-4:00pm, January 9, 2006, Maryland C

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[58.07] A Stellar Decade in the Career of Annie Jump Cannon: 1915-1925.

B. L. Welther (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

The years between 1915 and 1925 were probably the most exhilarating in the career of Annie Jump Cannon. In 1896, when she joined the staff of women computers at Harvard College Observatory, there were two preliminary schemes for classifying photographic stellar spectra. The first was a simple one-dimensional alphabetical scheme evolved by Edward Pickering and Williamina Fleming in the late 1880s; the second was a complex two-dimensional scheme developed by Antonia Maury in the early 1890s. Neither of these schemes suited the project that Pickering had in mind: the publication of a large catalogue of spectral types for 100,000 stars to be named in honor of Henry Draper. As a result, one of the first projects that Pickering assigned to Cannon was to compare integrate, and revise the two schemes into what became known as the Harvard Classification. Cannon’s scheme lay dormant, however, until 1910 when Pickering finally persuaded astronomers at the Solar Union meeting to adopt it as the standard. From 1911 to 1915, then, Cannon undertook the truly heroic work of classifying the photographic spectra of not just 100,000 stars, but 225,300 stars down to eighth magnitude. Finally, after the publication of the first volume of the HD Catalogue in 1918, Cannon began to reap both personal recognition and tangible rewards for her work on developing and implementing the Harvard Classification. This paper will review some of the events in her life from 1915 to 1925: the problems she encountered in publishing the nine volumes of the HD Catalogue; the sabbatical leave she took at Harvard’s Southern Station in Arequipa, Peru; the six honorary doctorates she received, especially the one in 1925, when she sailed to England to participate in the academic ceremonies at Oxford University.

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