CANCELLED - Donovan Moore - "What Stars Are Made Of"

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Donovan Moore

**This event has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule in the coming months.**

“Male astronomers often achieve a popular fame that eluded one of the field’s most distinguished women: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. That should be remedied by Donovan Moore’s engaging and accessible biography. It skillfully opens up Payne’s achievements and adventures by setting them in the global village of astronomy… Moore illuminates Payne’s development into a remarkable scientist.”—Giuseppina Fabbiano, for Nature

Donovan Moore discusses What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion. 

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: The history of science is replete with women getting little notice for their groundbreaking discoveries. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a tireless innovator who correctly theorized the substance of stars, was one of them.

It was not easy being a woman of ambition in early twentieth-century England, much less one who wished to be a scientist. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin overcame prodigious obstacles to become a woman of many firsts: the first to receive a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College, the first promoted to full professor at Harvard, the first to head a department there. And, in what has been called “the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy,” she was the first to describe what stars are made of.

Payne-Gaposchkin lived in a society that did not know what to make of a determined schoolgirl who wanted to know everything. She was derided in college and refused a degree. As a graduate student, she faced formidable skepticism. Revolutionary ideas rarely enjoy instantaneous acceptance, but the learned men of the astronomical community found hers especially hard to take seriously. Though welcomed at the Harvard College Observatory, she worked for years without recognition or status. Still, she accomplished what every scientist yearns for: discovery. She revealed the atomic composition of stars—only to be told that her conclusions were wrong by the very man who would later show her to be correct.

In What Stars Are Made Of, Donovan Moore brings this remarkable woman to life through extensive archival research, family interviews, and photographs. Moore retraces Payne-Gaposchkin’s steps with visits to cramped observatories and nighttime bicycle rides through the streets of Cambridge, England. The result is a story of devotion and tenacity that speaks powerfully to our own time.

About the author: Donovan Moore has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Boston Globe and Rolling Stone, and has worked as a television reporter and producer.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago 60637