This year we have been treated to the long classified work of women NASA employees in the book and movie; Hidden Figures. Another fascinating non-fiction book has just been published and spotlights the amazingly tedious and unrecognized work done by women astronomers in the late 1800s to mid 1900s. The book: The Glass Universe is by historian Dava Sobel, the author of bestsellers Galileo's Daughter and The Illustrated Longitude. Sobel's writing style makes the complicated work done by these astronomers come alive and for non-astronomers the story still flows.
The women working at the Harvard University Observatory were initially called "human computers" as they measured and plotted stars, galaxies and other stellar spectra in the new photographic processes. It took many years before they were officially called astronomers. The book is a fascinating look at the way the women were able to even work in a male dominated science field and it also is an interesting look at the two women philanthropists who recognized the value of the photographic process and the work the women could accomplish. You can also read a Smithsonian magazine article about the book, including pictures.
This non-fiction book is for those interested in the science history written in a readable style. Other books by Dava Sobel are also available for checkout.