The present Doodle praises the 99th birthday of Italian professor, activist, author, and astrophysicist Margherita “The Lady of the Stars” Hack.
Outside of her interest in satellites, asteroids, and the evolution of stellar atmospheres, Hack supported civil rights as a outspoken advocate for progressive causes, animal protection, and equality for all.
Margherita Hack was born in Florence on this day in 1922. She took only one university class in literature to switching her major to physics.
Following the 1945 defense of her thesis on Cepheid variables (stars used to measure intergalactic distances), Hack applied her knowledge of stellar spectroscopy as a astronomer at Florence’s Astronomical Observatory of Arcetri.
In 1964, Hack moved to Trieste, where she made history not similarly as the first Italian woman to acquire a full professorship at the city’s university yet additionally as the first female director of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory.
For more than 20 years, she transformed Trieste’s Observatory from a largely anonymous institution to a globally renowned nexus of scientific progress.
These recognized innovations earned Hack international recognition in the astronomical community, which prompted prestigious memberships at NASA and the European Space Agency—both home to the world’s foremost scientific observatories.
Acclaimed for her ability to explain complex scientific concepts to the general public, Hack published many academic papers, a few astronomy books, and founded two astronomical magazines.
She got a litany of accolades for her lifetime achievements, quite having asteroid 8558 Hack, which orbits among Mars and Jupiter, named in her honor in 1995.
At 90 years youthful, the Italian government conferred Hack with its highest award: the title of Dama di Gran Croce.
Happy birthday, Margherita Hack, and thank you for inspiring future generations to shoot for the stars!