The first female astronomer in the United States, Maria Mitchell was also the first American scientist to discover a comet, which brought her international acclaim. Additionally, she was an early advocate for science and math education for girls and the first female astronomy professor.
Born on August 1, 1818 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Maria was the third of William and Lydia Mitchell’s ten children. As Quakers, her parents advocated equal education for girls, and her father—an astronomer and teacher—contributed much to her education. Maria attended Cyrus Peirce’s School for Young Ladies, and after completing her education at age 16, opened a school training girls in math and science.
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