E. Dorrit Hoffleit, Ph.D. Remembered by Cambridge Who’s Who for her Contributions to the Field of Astronomy

April 23rd, 2007

Cambridge Honors Hoffleit
NEW YORK-April 19, 2007 – E. Dorrit Hoffleit, Ph.D. (March 12, 1907 – April 9, 2007) was a world-renowned astronomer, and an expert on variable stars, astrometry, and the history of astronomy. She wrote The Bright Star Catalogue, a compendium of information on the 9,110 brightest stars in the sky. Now in its fifth revision, her work on the catalogue remains a valuable reference to astronomers. She also co-authored The General Catalogue of Trigonometric Stellar Parallaxes, which contains precise distance measurements to 8,112 stars. In 1988, minor planet 3416 was named “Dorrit” in her honor.

E. Dorrit Hoffleit began her astronomical career in 1929 as a research assistant at Harvard University’s Observatory and soon became an expert at spectroscopically determining the absolute brightness of stars. In 1943, she joined the Ballistic Research Lab at Aberdeen Proving Ground where she computed missile trajectories. In 1956, after 25 years at Harvard, Dr. Hoffleit went to Yale to run its star cataloging program. She was also director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, Nantucket, from 1957-1978. Under her mentorship, 11 women in the observatory’s summer research program went on to earn doctorate degrees in astronomy, and collectively they discovered over 1,000 new variable stars.

Cambridge Who's Who HonoreeDuring her career, Hoffleit wrote hundreds of articles on astronomy. In 1988, she was awarded the George Van Biesbroeck Prize for a lifetime of service to astronomy. In 1993, she was the recipient of the Annenberg Award for Science Education. In 1998, she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

E. Dorrit Hoffleit received her D.Sc. from Central Connecticut State University (1998); D.Sc., from Smith College (1984); Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College (1938) and her bachelor of arts in mathematics, cum laude, from Radcliffe College (1928).

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