Annie Jump Cannon painting by Rob Schamberger © 2017 Rob. All rights reserved.

Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon
Ink, watercolor and acrylic on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
The latest addition to the ‘She Changed the World’ collection!

Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941), besides having one of the raddest names in human history, not only changed the world but how we view the world’s place in the universe. At a young age her mother created a fascination in the cosmos, which led her to Wellesley College, where she earned her masters in 1907. During her time there she lost her hearing, believed to be a result of a bout with scarlet fever.

Not to be deterred, she was hired by Edward C Pickering as an assistant at the Harvard College Observatory. While there she developed a classification system for stars based on stellar temperature, which is still used today. During her professional career she catalogued around 350,000 stars, discovering 300 variable stars, five novas and one spectroscopic binary. She was able to classify three stars a minute just by looking at them and when using a magnifying glass she was able to classify stars down to the ninth magnitude. That’s 16 times fainter than the human eye can see.

On May 9, 1922 the International Astronomical Union formally adopted Cannon’s stellar classification system. During her working years she was routinely criticized for doing men’s work, in spite of her being more efficient than anyone else in the field and becoming an ambassador of sorts for all of astronomy. She represented all professional women at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Now, I’m not saying she gained superpowers and used them to change the world, but I might let you draw that conclusion if you want to.

But damn if ‘Annie Jump Cannon’ ain’t a superhero name, y’know?