Timeline based on
the ASTR 350 project
“A History of Astronomy at Wellesley College”
by Kathleen Sewall (19)'97.
Additional historical photos can be found in the
Wellesley College founder Henry Durant asks the Physics Department to
offer a course incorporating astronomy.
“Applied Physics”, taught by Physics professor
Sarah Whiting, results.
Future famous astronomer
Annie Jump Cannon
graduates from Wellesley College with a degree in Physics.
More information about Miss Cannon is available on the Web at
“Person of the Week”
for 2000 August 1,
and in a section of the Astronomy Department's site devoted to
Annie Jump Cannon.
Mrs. John C. Whitin, Wellesley
College trustee, decides to donate an observatory for the College.
Besides providing the funds, Mrs. Whitin is also heavily involved in the
design of the facility and the selection of equipment. Read
the story of the founding of the Observatory,
as told in Wellesley College 1875-1975: A Century of
Women. (PDF file, 86 kb; requires
The college purchases the
from S. V. White, a Brooklyn doctor. The telescope had been built by
Henry Fitz in 1854, and was reworked by Alvan Clark & Sons in
is completed. Total cost: $30,000.
Sarah Whiting retires.
John Duncan is hired as new
Elizabeth Whiting gives $2000 to the Department. This money is used to
(by the front door) honoring her sister, Sarah Whiting, and for the
Astronomy professor Helen Dodson and Barbara McCarthy, professor of
Greek, teach a secret course in cryptography to (at least) ten
students. The course was taught evenings at the Observatory, where
late-night activity would not attract attention. Following graduation,
most of these students went on to work for the WAVES (Women Accepted
for Volunteer Emergency Service), working on Japanese and German
codes. (See Wellesley magazine, Winter 2000, for more
Duncan retires. James Warwick serves as interim Director.
Scott Birney becomes Director,
succeeding Sarah Hill who retires from Wellesley College three years later.
Asteroid (3065) 1984 CV, discovered 1984 Feb 08 by E. Bowell
at Anderson Mesa, is named
(3065) Sarahill, with the following citation:
Named in honor of
Sarah J. Hill,
professor of astronomy at Wellesley College (1952-1974)
and chairman of its astronomy department (1952-1971).
Her enthusiasm for teaching and for observational astronomy
influenced ten graduates to earn doctorates and
become professional astronomers.
Many others among her students earned advanced degrees
in astronomy or related fields.
Name proposed by the discoverer
following a suggestion by Faith Vilas (ASTR '73),
who provided the citation.