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March 25 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
“Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson about the life of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, opens March 24 in Marshall Auditorium on the Sul Ross Alpine campus.
The plays runs through April 2nd with Friday and Saturday performances starting at 7:30PM and Sunday matinee at 2PM.
Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born July 4, 1868 in Massachusetts. In 1893, she was hired by astronomer Edward Pickering to join a group of women “computers” to catalog the stars captured on Harvard’s photographic plate collection. These women were not allowed to operate the telescopes, and were known as “Pickering’s harem” but they contributed to the analysis of data that led to major scientific discovery. Through her research at the Harvard Observatory, Henrietta Leavitt discovered the direct relationship between the period of a star’s dimming and star’s intrinsic brightness. Once a star’s intrinsic brightness is known, astronomers can calculate how far away the star is by knowing how light dims the further it travels. This was quickly recognized as a valuable new tool to measure distances to this class of variable star. This discovery led to Edwin Hubble’s discovery that there are many more galaxies than just the Milky Way. In the words of author George Johnson, who wrote the book Miss Leavitt’s Stars, Miss Leavitt became “the woman who discovered how to measure the Universe.”