By Olivia B. Waxman
December 11, 2014

Today’s Google Doodle honors Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941), a leading female astronomer who is known for her work classifying the stars based on their stellar spectra.

Nicknamed the “Census Taker of the Sky,” the Wellesley graduate who worked at Harvard’s Observatory was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Oxford University (a Doctor of Science), and the first woman to be awarded the National Academy of Sciences’s Henry Draper medal for research in astronomical physics.

She also curated the observatory’s “photographic plates of the heavens,” described in a March 28, 1932, TIME article as “a permanent record of things understood or obscure beyond the night” and “a towering compendium of dots and streaks in photographic gelatine which, to the theoretical physicist, suggest the whence and the whither of all things.”

Cannon was credited for cataloging 400,000 stellar bodies and “discovering more than 300 variable stars, 5 novae, and one spectroscopic binary”(according to Harvard’s library) before she died at age 77.

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