Byrd, Mary Emma
BornLe Roy, Michigan, USA, 15 November 1849
DiedLawrence, Kansas, USA, 30 July 1934
Mary Byrd directed the Smith College Observatory, determined the positions of comets by photographic astrometry, and pioneered the development of laboratory teaching methods in descriptive astronomy.
Byrd’s father was an itinerant Congregational minister, the Reverend John Huntington Byrd; her mother was Elizabeth Adelaide Low. After age six, Byrd grew up in Kansas and later attended Oberlin College and the University of Michigan, where she earned an A.B. degree (1878). After 4 years as a teacher and a high-school principal, Byrd spent a year as a voluntary assistant at the Harvard College Observatory, under Edward Pickering. Between 1883 and 1887, she taught mathematics and astronomy at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, and operated its time service under the supervision of William Payne. Byrd later earned her Ph.D. in astronomy at Carleton (1904). Like many women who chose to pursue a...
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