Cover: What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, from Harvard University PressCover: What Stars Are Made Of in HARDCOVER

What Stars Are Made Of

The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

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$29.95 • £26.95 • €27.95

ISBN 9780674237377

Publication Date: 03/03/2020


320 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

58 photos


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The first full-length biography, a beautifully written and well-researched study. Handling the science with a light but deft touch, Moore primarily focuses on this astronomer’s personal life, the office politics, and the struggles one woman of science faced in the first half of the 20th century.—Marcia Bartusiak, Wall Street Journal

Payne comes across as a fascinating woman, navigating the various gender-based obstacles in her way to build a life and career in a new subject (astrophysics) in a new country… An entertaining, engaging, and informative read.—Emily Winterburn, BBC Sky at Night

Male astronomers often achieve a popular fame that eluded one of the field’s most distinguished women: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. That should be remedied by Donovan Moore’s engaging and accessible biography. It skillfully opens up Payne’s achievements and adventures by setting them in the global village of astronomy… Moore illuminates Payne’s development into a remarkable scientist.—Giuseppina Fabbiano, Nature

Welcome not just because it puts the record straight for a wider audience but also because it is the proverbial good read, setting Payne’s achievements in the context of her times.—John Gribbin, Literary Review

A rich and illuminating biography of a scientist whose contributions have been underappreciated for too long.—Donna Lu, New Scientist

Extremely well-researched, detailed and engaging, with a perfect mix of history, anecdotes and scientific explanations, Moore brings to life the bright light that was Payne-Gaposchkin.Physics World

Moore takes readers on a meticulously researched tour of Payne-Gaposchkin’s remarkable life, drawn from family interviews, contemporary accounts and Payne-Gaposchkin’s own writings. It’s a riveting tale of a woman who knocked down every wall put before her to get the answers she desired about the cosmos.—Christopher Crockett, Science News

Payne-Gaposchkin pounded on astronomy’s glass ceiling, and she was the first to put major cracks in it. But in many places, the ceiling was impervious to her effort and intellect. She deserves more praise for her accomplishments than she has received… Fortunately, Moore’s new biography of this brilliant scientist is a must-read.—David A. Weintraub, Physics Today

An engaging, enlightening biography about a key figure in astrophysics in the 20th century.—Jeff Foust, Space Review

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin is one of the most important scientists that you’ve never heard of… Moore pays tribute to a tenacious scientist whose many firsts helped break new ground—and whose spirit of discovery changed our understanding of the universe.A Mighty Girl

Tells the story of a brilliant and altogether remarkable astronomer who is not nearly as famous as she should be. This clear and articulate book may go some way to rectify that situation… We owe a great deal to pioneers such as Cecilia Payne-Gaposhkin, who should be better known and whose achievements should be much more widely celebrated.—Patricia Ann Whitelock, Nature Astronomy

Moore charts Payne-Gaposchkin’s scientific life from grade school standout to world-class astronomer.—Jennifer Carson, Science

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin is one of the most important scientists that you’ve never heard of… In this extensively researched biography, Donovan Moore pays tribute to a tenacious scientist whose many firsts helped break new ground—and whose spirit of discovery changed our understanding of the universe.A Mighty Girl

Recounts the remarkable story of this unusually gifted scientist.—Priyamvada Natarajan, Book Post

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was one of the world’s first astrochemists. This book tells of her striking scientific insights, her frustrations as a female scientist and how she rose to become the first female professor at Harvard University… Very readable and well organized, giving remarkable insights into its paradoxical subject who was both shy but determined… A worthy tribute to a truly remarkable woman.—Bill Griffith, Chemistry World

A fine biography of perhaps the greatest astronomer of the past century that no one has heard of… Readers will gnash their teeth as Moore recounts the discrimination she endured… An outstanding life of an impressive scientist.Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Illuminates the amazing life and work of astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin… Moore captures a fascinating period of change in science, when physics was in flux and astrophysics was brand-new, and in the world as a whole, as new opportunities opened up for women. This is a fascinating look at a pioneer in science.Publishers Weekly

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s success was not achieved by chance. She triumphed by facing down every obstacle, by never giving up, by being, as she says, ‘doggedly persistent.’ Donovan Moore brings Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin to the front of history in a way that inspires us, educates us, and makes us want to be better. Champions adapt, and Cecilia was a champion.—Billie Jean King, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and winner of the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match

What Stars Are Made Of celebrates the scientist responsible for discovering the composition of stars. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin dedicated her life to the pursuit of science when very few women were given the chance. Throughout her long career, she never stopped adapting her methods and embracing new ideas, fueled by a passion to understand the universe and our place in it.—Scott Kelly, retired U.S. Navy Captain, former NASA astronaut, and author of Endurance

Through vivid and eloquent prose, this book applauds the great astronomer who discovered what stars themselves are made of. Moore brings the inspirational story of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin to center stage, where it belongs.—Jo Dunkley, author of Our Universe: An Astronomer’s Guide

I devoured this book in a single weekend. Donovan Moore artfully portrays the lack of recognition for Payne-Gaposchkin’s paradigm-changing discoveries and embarks, as resolutely as Cecilia herself, to set the record straight.—Jessie Christiansen, NASA Exoplanet Science Institute

What Stars Are Made Of provides both an accessible introduction to and an expansive context for the life and work of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, one of the most brilliant astrophysicists of the twentieth century. The sharing of stories like Payne-Gaposchkin’s will reshape the future of science so that all aspiring scientists may reach their full potential as we continue to explore the universe.—Emily Rice, City University of New York and the American Museum of Natural History

An astronomy icon is finally brought to life in this captivating and inspiring must-read. Donovan Moore digs deep to reveal a scientist far ahead of her time.—Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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