stars from Earth. Harlow Shapley used the information to determine the size of the galaxy.
Leavitt was elected an honorary member of the Associated Variable Star Observers. She was a member of the American Astronomical and Astrophysical Society as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Association of University Women.
Leavitt died in 1921 at the age of 53 as a result of cancer. Her death was immediately noted by the scientific community. The following year her colleague at the Harvard College Observatory, Solon Bailey, wrote an article lamenting her death in Popular Astronomy. Her death at an age when she should have had many more years of productive research ahead of her was a tragedy. She almost certainly would have made more astronomical discoveries. Her obituary in the Boston Transcript had the headline "Noted Woman Astronomer": the fact that she was a brilliant astronomer and a woman was so unusual that the newspaper immediately drew attention to it.
Henrietta Leavitt made several important astronomical discoveries in her lifetime. She determined the magnitude of stars, and her work in this area was adopted as the standard for her time. She formulated the period-luminosity relationship that allowed for measuring interstellar distances, which led others to determine the size of the galaxy. More important, she helped open up the study of astronomy to women. She was one of the many talented scientists who helped blaze a path for other women to follow.
Bailey Martha J. "Leavitt, Henrietta Swan," in American Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1994.
Bailey Solon I. "Henrietta Swan Leavitt." Popular Astronomy 30, no. 4 ( 1922): 196-199.
-----. The History and Work of the Harvard College Observatory. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1931.
Dugan Raymond S. "Leavitt, Henrietta Swan," in Dictionary of American Biography. Edited by Dumas Malone. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961.
Gingerich Owen. "Leavitt, Henrietta Swan," in Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Edited by Marshall De Bruhl. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980.