August 24, 2016

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An Early Woman Observer of the Moon

Originally published September 3, 2006

sketches by Evelyn M. Whitehead and provided by John McFarland Armagh, Northern Ireland

Protected within the archives of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland are these lunar sketches made by Evelyn M. Whitehead during 1910/11. These are all of the Aristarchus region and in fact show dark bands on the inner wall of that crater. The drawings, in black ink/water color and pencil, are of comparable quality to others published at about the same time by Goodacre and Elger. Although Evelyn is sometimes a name for boys it is a much more common female name, and there is documentary evidence that the Evelyn who made these drawing was female. John McFarland, of the Armagh Observatory, did some sleuthing around in old journals and reports that she joined the British Astronomical Association on 24 November 1909 (See Journal of the BAA, vol.22, p.405 and p.32 of end section on list of members, 1912). Her address is given as Lindavista, Abergavenny which is also the address hand-written on the reverse of the lunar sketches. These six sketches are mounted on stiff board and framed in black (part of the frame is missing at upper right). On the rear of one of the sketches is written Plate XXXII suggesting that the drawings were meant as illustrations for a book, article or display. Miss Evelyn M. Whitehead wrote an article on Lunar Sketching in the Boletin de la Sociedad de Barcelona in May 1912. We will see more of this Spanish Boletin soon, but I am happy that John has brought this early woman selenographer to our attention. Does anyone know more about her or any other women students of the Moon?

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
The instrument used for these sketches is not recorded, but the dates are given on them.

Related Links:
Rükl plate 18

Yesterday's LPOD: A Non-Crater

Tomorrow's LPOD: Another Schiller


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