Topic: 
"Margaret Burbidge, and the Annie Jump Cannon Award or How I Met Vera Rubin -- a Personal and Scientific Recollection"
Date: 
Friday, April 20, 2018 - 3:35pm
155 Nicholson Hall
Speaker: 
Roberta Humphreys
Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
University of Minnesota

In December 2016, the prominent woman astronomer Vera Rubin passed away. Numerous articles lauding her accomplishments credited Vera with the discovery of dark matter or at least the confirmation of it. Vera was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, plus numerous awards and recognition. She was also a strong and often outspoken advocate for women in science.  My story begins in 1971 when Margaret Burbidge, the best known woman in astronomy, turned down the Annie Jump Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society (AAS)  on the grounds that it was discriminatory. This was the Society's oldest award and the only one exclusively for women. This created an image crisis for the AAS. One of the consequences was the first Working Group on the Status of Women in Astronomy. Vera and I were on that committee. We established a strong supportive and professional  relationship. At one point our research briefly overlapped regarding the motions of stars and gas in galaxies. I'll briefly describe some of the highlights of Vera's discoveries -- including the rotation curves of galaxies and dark matter.