News | 04.09.2007
E. Dorrit Hoffleit
(12 March 1907 - 9 April 2007)
On April 9th Dorrit Hoffleit passed away at her apartment following a brief illness. Dorrit's astronomical career spanned more than 75 years, the first 25 at Harvard and the following 50 plus years at Yale. At the time of her passing she had just celebrated her 100th birthday at a luncheon attended by 94 of her friends and colleagues (at which the accompanying photo was taken). Dorrit's research spanned a wide range of interests including meteors, spectroscopic parallaxes, variable stars, astrometry, providing research opportunities for young women at the Maria Mitchell Observatory, which she directed for 20 years, reporting on current astronomical research to the amateur community and the history of astronomy. Most observers will be familiar with her through the Bright Star Catalogue on which she labored painstakingly to ensure the accuracy of all entries. Dorrit had a major impact on those who collaborated with her or took the time to stop in her office to say hello. As one well-known astronomer put it, Dorrit is our bridge to the beginnings of modern stellar astronomy and one of the many things that makes her so wonderful is that no matter how glad you are to see her, she always leaves you feeling that she was even happier to see you. We will all miss her cheerful presence.
William van Altena
20 April 2007
Image Credits: (header) European Space Agency & NASA; (background) NASA, ESA and H.E. Bond (STScI)
“Dorit is our bridge to the beginnings of modern stellar astronomy…”