Women in Astronomy


Women have a long history in astronomy. Their work has helped to shape what we know about the solar system, Milky Way and other distant galaxies. What is less known are the fascinating stories that informed their life and work. Spend a day learning about the contribution that women have made to astronomy over centuries.  

Beginning with Hypatia (c. 355–415 CE) in Alexandria, Egypt, through Caroline Herschel in Germany and England in the 18th Century to Maggie Aderin-Pocock in UK in the present day, this day school charts the course of female astronomers’ lives while exploring the specific challenges that they faced in their careers. Many of their stories were obscured or hidden despite their impressive contributions, in part because of the roles they were restricted to during particular periods in history. 

Working with biographical, scientific and secondary sources, this day highlights the importance of recognising the scientific impact that women astronomers have made while also paying attention to the difficulties that they still face. There have only been, for example, four female Nobel laureates in physics to date. ‘Women in Astronomy’ traces the strategies that women have used to thrive in what have been hostile working environments.  

From the poetry of Rebecca Elson to the music of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, this event aims to inspire by showing how cultivating 'a responsibility to awe' can lead to the development of life-changing passions and skills. The day will also feature a present-day astronomer who will share her current research and life's journey.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 4 October 2023.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception

Measuring up: Hypatia and astrolabes in Egypt 
Recording and teaching astronomy despite religious conflict 

Tea/coffee break

Getting paid: Caroline Herschel in England and Germany  
Working to revolutionise the earth and the sky 

Lunch break

Outside In: Maggie Aderin-Pocock in England 
A winding road to the stars 

Tea/coffee break

Guest female astronomer 

Day ends



Description Costs
Course Fee (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Baguette lunch £6.50
Hot lunch (three courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr JC Niala


JC Niala is a historian, anthropologist and an award-winning playwright. She specialises in making plays based on the lives of women who work in science.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.