Astronomer's historic work brought to life for Sidmouth College students

Woman in period costume playing the part of astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt

An actress playing the role of Henrietta Swan Leavitt. - Credit: Links to Life

Sidmouth College students had an ‘out of this world’ experience in a day of exploring the scale and size of the universe. 

An educational team of actors and scientists visited the college on Thursday, October 14 to present a drama performance about the life of the little-known US astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and give talks about careers in physics and astronomy. 

Leavitt worked at the Harvard College Observatory early in the 20th century, and her research was central to the later discoveries of Edwin Hubble. 

The teacher who led the event for Sidmouth College, Christine Hughes, said: “Students were captivated by the drama performance telling her life story and of her research. 

“They also challenged their physics and maths skills as they learned how we measure distances to stars and analysed some of Swan Leavitt’s data. 

“The students were left with a greater appreciation of her work and of how it has led to our modern understanding of the scale of the universe. 

“They thoroughly enjoyed the day and were able to challenge their own perceptions of physics and astronomy.” 


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