Annie Maunder: Plaque to be erected for Strabane astronomer

Annie Maunder Image copyright RAS/Dorrie Giles
Image caption Annie Maunder: A pioneer of solar astronomy

A plaque is to be erected in Northern Ireland to honour a Strabane astronomer who has a crater on the moon named after her.

Annie Maunder worked alongside her husband, Edward Walter Maunder, at the end of the 19th Century.

They recorded dark spots that pepper the sun and their name is still well known in scientific circles today.

Derry City and Strabane District Council granted funding for a plaque on Monday.

More on Annie Maunder and other female pioneers of science:

Image copyright Maunder family
Image caption Edward Walter Maunder met Annie after the death of his first wife and collaborated with her until his death
Image copyright Alfred Johnson/Annie Maunder's family
Image caption Annie Maunder on an eclipse expedition in Labrador, Newfoundland

Annie Maunder went on many scientific expeditions to observe eclipses around the turn of the century, often as the only woman.

She travelled to Lapland, India, Algiers, Mauritius and Labrador.

She even designed her own camera to take spectacular pictures of the Sun, including the first photograph ever of streamers from the Sun's outer layer, or corona.

In 1892, the names of Annie Russell, her maiden name, and fellow Greenwich astronomer Alice Everett were put forward to become fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society.

However, they failed to gain enough of the popular vote in a secret ballot and were rejected.

Leo Enright, a space expert, told BBC Radio Foyle: "Annie deserves this recognition.

"Her and Alice Everett blazed a light across the sky in the late 1800s as astronomers. They explored the night sky and developed a lot of important theories.

"A lot of her work is important for climate change today.

"Even though she went to Cambridge they wouldn't give her a degree. Women didn't get degrees and there was a lot of frustration in that time period.

"It was a big moment when a crater was named after her."

Image copyright Maunder family
Image caption Family photos show preparations for observing an eclipse

Mrs Maunder married Edward Walter Maunder in 1895.

In a separate development, four other plaques will also be erected by the Ulster History Circle over the next five years.

They include: Irish poet Francis Ledwidge, EH Doherty, founder of the Féis Dhoíre Cholmcílle , Brigadier General Ambrose Ricardo who co-founded the Londonderry Féis and teacher and composer Dorothy Parke.

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