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Women Hold Up Half the Sky

By John G. Radzilowicz

The title of this piece is actually an old Chinese proverb. It speaks simply and clearly to the belief Ė often discounted in western history - that women can and do make an equal contribution with men to the human experience. Itís a poetic line that can be used to make this point in reference to all areas of human endeavor, from art to music to literature and more.

But, of course, it is especially appropriate when applied to the quest to explore and understand the cosmos. For this reason, Women Hold Up Half the Sky is also the title of the newest multimedia program now playing at Carnegie Science Centerís Buhl Planetarium. In this show we explore the history of astronomy and space science from the perspective of the role that women have played in this grand effort to understand the universe and to reach for the stars. We examine their great contributions and some of their great struggles as well.

Itís an opportunity to learn about the key contributions women have made to the first true science throughout human history. Women like comet hunter Caroline Herschel whose work was often overlooked because of her more famous brother, or Annie Jump Cannon whose star classification system was accepted the world over, but who waited decades for a permanent appointment at Harvard. And, perhaps even more importantly, itís a chance to learn about the women who carry on this exciting work today.

In this program, youíll learn about the trailblazers of today, those who wrestle with great cosmic questions at the dawn of the 21st century. People such as Shannon Lucid, the holder of the American and womenís records for time in space, and Margaret Geller, who has revolutionized our understanding of the structure of the universe, will tell you about their work in their own words.They will let you see why women do, in fact, hold up half the sky.

 

 

 

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