Dorrit Hoffleit

Dorrit Hoffleit

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Ellen Dorrit Hoffleit was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 senior research astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

.

Hoffleit was born in Florence, Alabama
Florence, Alabama
Florence is the county seat of Lauderdale County, Alabama, United States, in the northwestern corner of the state.According to the 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the city's population was 36,721....

 and earned her Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges. Radcliffe College conferred joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963 and a formal merger agreement with...

 in 1938. Starting as a research assistant at the Harvard College Observatory
Harvard College Observatory
The Harvard College Observatory is an institution managing a complex of buildings and multiple instruments used for astronomical research by the Harvard University Department of Astronomy. It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and was founded in 1839...

 in 1929, she was hired as an astronomer at Harvard in 1948. She remained there until moving to Yale
YALE
RapidMiner, formerly YALE , is an environment for machine learning, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, and business analytics. It is used for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, application development, and industrial applications...

 in 1956, staying until her 1975 retirement.

She was the author of the Bright Star Catalogue
Bright Star Catalogue
The Bright Star Catalogue, also known as the Yale Catalogue of Bright Stars or Yale Bright Star Catalogue, is a star catalogue that lists all stars of stellar magnitude 6.5 or brighter, which is roughly every star visible to the naked eye from Earth. It is currently available online in its 5th...

, a compendium of information on the 9,110 brightest stars in the sky; she also co-authored The General Catalogue of Trigonometric Stellar Parallaxes, containing precise distance measurements to 8,112 stars, information critical to understanding the kinematics
Kinematics
Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems without consideration of the forces that cause the motion....

 of the Milky Way galaxy and the evolution of the solar neighborhood. In 1988, Hoffleit was awarded the George Van Biesbroeck Prize
George Van Biesbroeck Prize
The George Van Biesbroeck Prize is an award for long-term achievements in the field of astronomy. According to the American Astronomical Society awards website; "The Van Biesbroeck prize is normally awarded every two years and honors a living individual for long-term extraordinary or unselfish...

 by the American Astronomical Society
American Astronomical Society
The American Astronomical Society is an American society of professional astronomers and other interested individuals, headquartered in Washington, DC...

 for a lifetime of service to astronomy. She turned 100
Centenarian
A centenarian is a person who is or lives beyond the age of 100 years. Because current average life expectancies across the world are less than 100, the term is invariably associated with longevity. Much rarer, a supercentenarian is a person who has lived to the age of 110 or more, something only...

 on March 12, 2007, and died a month later from complications of cancer.

With Harlan J. Smith
Harlan James Smith
Harlan James Smith was an American astronomer.He was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, the son of Paul and Anna McGregor Smith. While attending Wheeling High School he was named first runner up in the "Westinghouse National Science Talent Search". From 1943 until the end of World War II he served...

, Hoffleit discovered the optical variability of the first-discovered quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

 3C 273.

Hoffleit was for some time director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory
Maria Mitchell Observatory
The Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, was founded in 1908 and named in honor of American astronomer Maria Mitchell. It is a major component of the Maria Mitchell Association...

 on Nantucket Island as described in her autobiography.

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