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Charlotte Moore Sitterly

Born in Ercildoun, Pennsylvania in 1898, Charlotte Moore Sitterly was an American astronomer who studied solar spectroscopy and ultraviolet spectral lines. Moore began her education at Swarthmore College, where she graduated in 1920 with a B.A. in mathematics. After graduation, she went to work for Henry Norris Russell at Princeton University. Russell is famous for the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, which is graph of star’s luminosities vs. their classifications. While working with Russell, More worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory outside of Los Angeles and the Princeton University Observatory. The two astronomers worked on determining at what wavelength spectral lines appeared. Moore’s work with spectral lines helped her to determine the chemical elements of the Sun. After her work at Princeton, Moore went on to earn a Ph.D. in 1931 from the University of California, Berkeley in astronomy. 

After completing her Ph.D., Moore returned to Princeton, where continues to work and met her husband Bancroft W. Sitterly. Beginning in 1945, Moore began working for the National Bureau of Standards, where her charts on solar spectroscopy and spectral lines are still used today. In 1949, Moore was the first female associate of the Royal Astronomical Society in Great Britian. When scientific equipment could finally be launched into space with the help of rockets, Moore began work on ultraviolet spectroscopy, which she was still working on at the time of her death on March 3, 1990 at the age of 91. In 1990, Moore was awarded the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for her lifetime dedication to the astronomical sciences.

Items in Our Collection:

Notable women in the physical sciences: a biographical dictionary by Benjamin F Shearer and Barbara Smith Shearer

"A Tribute to Two Women of Spectroscopy: Charlotte Moore Sitterly and Mary Elizabeth Warga" by J M Rice

"Charlotte Moore Sitterly" by William C Martin