One hundred years ago this month, Cannon began the work at Harvard University that would garner her awards and accolades — not only because she was the preeminent woman in her profession but because her work was unprecedented.
Within four years, Cannon, who was deaf, had compiled data on a whopping 225,300 stars and identified them under the spectral classes O, B, A, F, G, K and M — which developed into the famous mnemonic, “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me.”
During her 40-year career, Cannon published additional star catalogs and discovered 300 yet-unknown stars. No wonder:
• Oxford University awarded Cannon in 1925 an honorary doctorate — the first ever for a woman;
• the National League of Women Voters named her in 1929 one of the 12 greatest living American women;
• and a moon crater was named after her.
Today, astronomers still rely on her work and the American Astronomical Society presents an annual award in her name to a female astronomer. This year’s recipient? Rachel Mandelbaum, a Princeton University researcher, whose many accomplishments include helping design children’s curriculum on the formation of the early universe. No doubt Cannon would approve.