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Annie Jump Cannon : The Astronomer Honored on the Dollar

Annie Jump Cannon and the Delaware American Innovation Dollar. Image: CoinWeek / US Mint / Public Domain.
Annie Jump Cannon and the Delaware American Innovation Dollar. Image: CoinWeek / US Mint / Public Domain.

The astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born December 11, 1863, in Delaware and died April 13, 1941, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her pioneering work on stellar classification led to the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme.

Cannon graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in physics in 1884. Stricken with scarlet fever in 1893, she lost much of her hearing and nearly died. Cannon returned to Wellesley in 1894, studying physics and astronomy under Professor Sarah Frances Whiting. She then continued her astronomy research at Radcliffe College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From 1896 onward, Annie Jump Cannon worked as a professional astronomer under Harvard Observatory Director Edward C. Pickering. There she showed a prodigious talent for classifying stars by their intensity.

Cannon was named Curator of Astronomical Photographs at Harvard in 1911 and named an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1914. She received an honorary doctorate of science from Oxford University in 1925.

Cannon retired in 1940 and died a year later after complications from a month-long illness. Her silhouette is depicted against a background of starlight on the 2019 Delaware American Innovation dollar coin.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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