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date: 26 January 2020

Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilialocked

(10 May 1900–07 December 1979)
  • Peggy Aldrich Kidwell


Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia (10 May 1900–07 December 1979), astrophysicist, was born in Wendover, England, the daughter of Edward John Payne, a lawyer and historian, and Emma Pertz, an artist. Payne’s father died when she was four years old, leaving slender resources for his wife and three children. Nonetheless, Cecilia, her brother Humfry, and her sister Lenora all traveled as children and attended private schools and university. Cecilia entered Newnham College of Cambridge University in 1919. Encouraged by the example of her aunt Dorothea Pertz, she planned to study science. Courses in botany, physics, and chemistry would prepare her to teach in a girls’ school. Toward the end of her first year at Newnham, Payne heard the astronomer Arthur Eddington lecture on his recent solar eclipse observations and their confirmation of ...

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