Did you know that Ida Barney was born today in 1886? In 1911 she worked and received her PhD in mathematics from Yale University. Initially she worked as a college professor, teaching mathematics. In 1922, she started work as a research assistant at the Yale University Observatory for the astrometry project. Astrometry is the precise measurement of the location and movement of stars, planets, and other objects in space. One method is to review photographs of space taken at different times and measure the change in position of the stars. During her career, Ida Barney calculated the position, motion, and magnitude of 150,000 stars. As new technology emerged, she also developed new methods to make observations and calculations easier and more accurate.
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When she started at the Yale University Observatory, Frank Schlesinger was Ida Barney’s supervisor. When Schlesinger retired in 1941, Ida Barney assumed leadership and supervision of the celestial cataloguing project.
At first, Ida Barney was assigned the task of reviewing photographic plates to gather data to calculate the position of stars. She was giving this tedious work by her supervisors because it was thought that women were not capable of theoretical research.
In 1952, Ida Barney received the prestigious Annie. J. Cannon Award.
Asteroid 5655 is named in Ida Barney’s honor.