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Profile of the Day: Annie Jump Cannon

On this day in 1863, astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born. Nicknamed the “Census Taker of the Sky,” Cannon was instrumental in the development of the current system of stellar classification.

Profile of the Day: Annie Jump Cannon

Image: Annie Jump Cannon / Smithsonian Institution

Cannon was born on December 11, 1863 in Dover, Delaware to Wilson Cannon, a shipbuilder and state senator, and Mary Jump. Cannon’s mother was the first to teach her about the constellations and encouraged her to pursue her passion in astronomy in her studies. She would go on to attend Wellesley College, where she studied physics and astronomy.

In 1896, Cannon began working at the Harvard Observatory under director Edward C. Pickering. She was part of a group of women hired to complete the Henry Draper Catalogue, with the goal to map and define every star in the sky to the ninth photographic magnitude. The group of women became known as the “Harvard Computers.” Not long after beginning their work, Cannon helped develop a new stellar classification system which is still used today. During her lifetime, Cannon manually classified over 350,000 stars. She also discovered 300 variable stars and 5 novas.

Cannon died on April 13, 1941 at the age of 77.

Explore Annie Jump Cannon’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected!

View Annie Jump Cannon’s Geni Profile


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