Annie Scott Dill Maunder

Annie Scott Dill Russell was born in 1868 in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland. She grew up in a family that highly valued education. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and her mother was the daughter of a minister in the same church.

Photographic image of Annie Maunder
Photographic image of Annie Maunder

Annie attended secondary school where she received high honors and a three-year scholarship of £35 annually. Annie attended Girton College, Cambridge where she studied math. Her mathematician tutor praised her highly for her abilities and in 1889 she received top honors of the year at Girton. In 1890, Annie started work at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, hired as one of the "lady computers" appointed to the solar department. Annie was offered £4 a month. This was half of what she earned previously working as a mathematics mistress at the Ladies’ High School on the island of Jersey. She was assigned as assistant to the famous astronomer, Edward Walter Maunder. She was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892. In 1894 Walter, as president, offered her editorship of the Journal of the British Astronomical Association (BAA), a position she held for 35 years. As a result of their marriage in 1894 and due to the civil service rules for women at the time, she resigned her position at the Royal Observatory. Annie's passion for her research never stopped, however, and she continued to study on her own and to collaborate with her husband. A very famous result of their scientific collaboration was the development of the "butterfly" diagram that traces the solar activity cycle. Many years later Annie wrote a letter describing how she and Walter took turns dictating and ruling thin lines that represented sunspot periods, together these lines formed butterfly-like shapes. Annie was especially passionate about observing and photographing sunspots and the corona during eclipses, even designing and operating her own large field-of-view camera. Annie and Walter attended numerous solar eclipse expeditions throughout their married life traveling all over the world; first in 1896 in Norway and then India in 1898.

Bibliography:

Dalla, Silvia and Fletcher, Lyndsay, 2016, A pioneer of solar astronomy, Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 57, Issue 5, pages 5.21–5.23 (https://doi.org/10.1093/astrogeo/atw181)
HAO News Story, 2016, Annie Maunder, A Pioneer of Solar Astronomy, https://www2.hao.ucar.edu/news/2020-jun/annie-maunder-pioneer-solar-astronomy