Historic time period: 1801–1861
Exploring the Sky
Maria (Mar-AYE-ah) Mitchell was America’s first woman professional astronomer. She was the first American woman to discover a new comet, and won a gold medal from the king of Denmark as an award for her discovery. After Maria became famous she continued to work as an astronomer, and also taught astronomy to younger women at Vassar College. She used a telescope that is now part of the collection of the National Museum of American History. Maria not only helped her students at Vassar College, but brought attention to other American scientists, schools for girls, and the women’s rights movement.
Maria's Comet is a historical fiction book written by Deborah Hopkinson. The story imagines how Maria's curiosity about the stars developed while she was a young girl and the role her family played in her interest in astronomy. You can learn more about Maria Mitchell and explore the sky for yourself using the fun and easy-to-follow reading guide and related activities on this page.
Read This Book
You can learn more about astronomy in these books. Click on the book titles below for more information, or visit our complete bibliography.
More Recommended Books
- Maria Mitchell: A Life in Journals and Letters by Henry Albers
- There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars by Bob Crelin
- Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton
Read Maria's Comet
Meet Maria, who longs to study the stars through a telescope with her father. Try some easy and fun reading strategies to bring Maria's story to life.Download the PDF »
See the Stars
Take a Trip
Explore the night sky for yourself with a trip outside, to the local planetarium, or a nearby telescope.Download the PDF »
From the Internet to Outer Space
Take the 1800's astronomer's challenge! Examine pictures of the outer space and try to describe them using words and your own drawings.Download the PDF »
Play and Create
Imagine a constellation celebrating a famous American woman, like Maria Mitchell. Then make it with needle and thread or paper.Download the PDF »