Cannon, Annie Jump

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Cannon, Annie Jump,

1863–1941, American astronomer, b. Dover, Del. In 1897 she became an assistant in the Harvard College Observatory, where (1911–38) she was astronomer and curator of astronomical photographs. Recognizing that spectra of many stars had been photographed in the second half of the 19th cent., Cannon classified more than 500,000 stars, in the process publishing many papers on the subject. One of the most significant achievements in 20th-century astronomy and the basis for contemporary theoretical understanding of stellar evolution, the catalog, named after its patron Henry Draper, is still in use. In the course of her photographic work she discovered 300 variable stars, 5 novas, 1 spectroscopic binary, and many stars with bright lines or variable spectra. In 1896 she discovered SS Cygni, a "dwarf nova" that repeats its outbursts about every 60 days. She made a bibliography of variable stars that includes about 200,000 references. Each year the American Association of University Women presents the Annie J. Cannon Award for distinguished contributions to astronomy.

Cannon, Annie Jump


Born Dec. 11, 1863, in Dover, Del.; died Apr. 13, 1941, in Cambridge, Mass. American astronomer.

Cannon graduated from Wellesley College in 1884. From 1897 to 1941 she was on the staff of the Harvard Observatory. Cannon, together with E. Pickering, published (1918–24) a voluminous work that contained a classification of the spectra of 225,330 stars.


Pannekoek, A. Istoriia astronomii. (Translated from English.) Moscow, 1966.

Cannon, Annie Jump

(1863–1941) astronomer; born in Dover, Del. Although deaf, she was a gifted pianist and amateur photographer, and after graduating from Wellesley she studied astronomy at Radcliffe College. In 1896 she was hired at the Harvard College Observatory, remaining there for her entire career. Devising a system for classifying stellar spectra, she reorganized the classification of stars in terms of surface temperature and catalogued over 225,000 stars. She was the first woman honored with a doctorate at Oxford and the only woman member of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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