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Nantucketer Maria Mitchell, the island's foremost astronomer, discovered a comet.




Nantucket's Maria Mitchell Science Center (map) is organized and maintained in honor of the island's foremost astronomer, Maria Mitchell (1818-89).

Discovery of a Comet

Born on Nantucket of an astronomer father and teacher-librarian mother, Mitchell became interested in the stars at an early age.

Out here on Nantucket, away from the pollution and haze of cities, she studied the heavens, and in 1847 discovered a hitherto uncharted comet.

Her discovery earned her a gold medal from the king of Denmark and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (the only woman so honored at the time), and led to a distinguished career as a professor at Vassar College.

The Association

Founded in 1902, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association seeks to preserve a fitting memorial to the island's famous astronomer, and to make available science facilities to residents and visitors.

The Science Center consists of several buildings, prime of which is the Maria Mitchell Observatory, open year round, with lectures and stellar observations when the sky is clear.

The Hinchman House at 7 Milk Street, contains the Museum of Natural Science, featuring lectures, birdwatching, wildflower and nature walks, and children's nature classes.

The Mitchell House at 1 Vestal Street, next to the observatory, is the birthplace of Maria Mitchell, with wildflower and herb gardens. It's open during the warmer months.

The Science Library is at 2 Vestal Street.

The Aquarium is at 28 Washington Street.

Maria Mitchell Science Center
2 Vestal Street (map)
Nantucket MA
Tel 508-228-9198

—by Tom Brosnahan

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Serene - a novel of the Belle Epoque


Maria Mitchell Observatory, Nantucket , Massachusetts

Maria Mitchell Observatory, part of
Nantucket's Maria Mitchell Science Center.

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