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Look up Henrietta Leavitt
Grade Level
Biography & Memoir
Picture Story Book
Physical Science
Earth Science
Women's Studies

4 September 2013

Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer

Written by Robert Burleigh, Illustrated by Raúl Colón

The skies are full of wonders, thought Henrietta Leavitt as she looked up into the heavens. She wanted to know everything about the stars. However, in the late 1800s, astronomers were men, not women.

Still she persisted in her studies, and got a job in an observatory. But again, men looked through the telescopes. Women measured and calculated the men’s findings.

One day, Henrietta discovered that some stars blinked, and that there was a pattern in their blinking. Eventually, she concluded that the blinking showed how bright stars are. That observation helped her figure out how far away the stars are. Her discovery also helped other astronomers discover galaxies outside the Milky Way.

This biography shows the scientific process in action and the value of persistence in overcoming obstacles. It would be appropriate for a unit on earth science, physical science, and on the scientific process. It would also be appropriate for a unit on biography and women’s studies.

In addition, the book might appeal to students who are reading at a lower grade level, in that it gives them access to science content, but is not written exclusively for young readers. Additional resources can also be used to extend its content.