Annie S. D. Maunder (1868-1947)

Reroduced from: The Irish Presbyterian, 10, no. 1, January 1904; Courtesy of Mary Bruck/Tom Bogdan

Born Annie Scott Dill Russell on April 14 1868 in Strabane (Ireland), she studied at the Ladies Collegiate School in Belfast, where she won the prize of academic excellence in 1886, which allowed her to go study mathematics Cambridge's Girton College. Despites ranking on top of her class upon graduation in 1889, she was not awarded a formal degree as these were still reserved to men at the time. In 1891 she was hired as "human calculator" and assistant to E. Walter Maunder at Greenwich Royal Observatory. Maunder soon noticed Annie's exceptional abilities, and soon she was operating as a full-fledge collaborator. On 18 December 1895 she married Walter Maunder, himself widowed since 1888.

Although most of her professional career remained closely tied to her husband's, Annie Maunder was a very able scientist in her own right. She designed a wide-field astronomical camera which she sued, amomng other things, to secure eclipse photographs of the corona extending very far above the solar disk. She studied and documented some ouzzling quasiperiodicities in geomagnetic activity indices, which she could trace to the rotation of large active regions across the solar disk. She waw deeply involved in the historical researches spearheaded by her husband, aimed at documenting the epoch of anomalously low solar activity in the second half of the seventeenth century now known as the Maunder Minimum. In 1916 Annie Maunder became the first women ever elected to the Royal Astronomical Society. She died in London on 15 September 1947.


Brck, M.T. 1994, Alice Everett and Annie Russell Maunder, torch bearing women astronomers, Irish Astronomical Journal, 21, 281-291.

Clark, S., The Sun Kings, Princeton University Press, 2007


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