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Children's LiteratureIt is fascinating to read the life story of a woman born in the mid 19th century who overcame incredible odds. Maria Mitchell became the first professional female astronomer in the United States. It was not a total fluke that Maria became an astronomer. Maria had the good fortune to be born of rather liberal Quaker parents in Nantucket during its heyday. Her father had a great interest in astronomy. He dedicated much of his life to sharing his knowledge and love of astronomy with many people, including his own children. The whaling industry was an important part of the economy in Nantucket. One of the ways Maria's father supported his family was to adjust the chronometers that sailors used to guide their ships. By the time she was a young teenager Maria could make these adjustments herself. She went on to become a world famous astronomer at a time when women were considered too weak for any level of sophisticated intellectual activity. She had a very distinguished career as a professor at Vassar College. In addition, she was dedicated to advancing the rights of women as well as training future astronomers. She is also remembered for her discovery of a comet for which she received world recognition and a gold medal in 1847. 2004 (orig. 1995), Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Ages 8 up.