Helen Sawyer Hogg

Helen Sawyer Hogg

Helen Sawyer Hogg ’26, a leading authority in astronomy for more than 60 years, was considered a world expert on the night sky. 

She developed a technique for measuring the distance of galaxies beyond the Milky Way and her observations were published in catalogs still in use today. She was well known not only for her research but also as a professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto and for a popular astronomy column that ran for 30 years in the Toronto Star. Hogg published over 200 papers, wrote a popular guide to astronomy, and hosted an astronomy television series in the seventies.

The recipient of a doctorate in 1931 from Radcliffe (Harvard at that time did not give graduate degrees in science to women), Hogg began her work on variable stars in globular clusters at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, and subsequently continued her research at the David Dunlop Observatory in Toronto. Former program director for the National Science Foundation, she was the first woman president of the physical sciences section of the Royal Society of Canada, the first woman president of the Royal Canadian Institute, and founding president of the Canadian Astronomical Society. The recipient of six honorary degrees at Canadian and United States universities, she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada—one of the highest honors in the nation—and has two observatories named for her.

Helen Hogg wanted everyone to find the same joy in the stars that she did and continued her work until late in her life. Her brilliance, enthusiasm, and warmth were widely recognized.

Class Year: 

Mount Holyoke College

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