Annie Scott Dill Maunder

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Annie Scott Dill Maunder
Born Annie Scott Dill Russell
April 14, 1868
Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland
Died September 15, 1947
Wandsworth, London, England
Nationality British
Other names Annie Russell Maunder
Known for Astronomy

Annie Scott Dill Maunder, née Russell (April 14, 1868 – September 15, 1947) was an Irish astronomer and mathematician.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland to William Andrew Russell and Hessy Nesbitt Dill. Her father was the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Strabane until 1882.

Annie received her secondary education at the Ladies Collegiate School in Belfast, which later became Victoria College. Winning a prize in an 1886 intermediate school examination, she was able to sit the Girton open entrance scholarship examination, and was awarded a three year scholarship. She studied at Cambridge University (Girton College) and in 1889 she passed the degree examinations with honors, as the top mathematician of her year at Girton, and ranked Senior Optime in the university class list. However the restrictions of the period did not allow her to receive the B.A. she had otherwise earned.

Astronomical research[edit]

In 1891 Russell began work at the Greenwich Royal Observatory, serving as one of the "lady computers" assigned to the solar department at a salary of four pounds per month. This was a special department set up in 1873 to photograph the sun. There Russell assisted Walter Maunder, and she spent a great deal of time photographing the Sun. The solar maximum of 1894 resulted in a high number of sunspots, the movements of which Russell also tracked.

Maunder and Russell were married in 1895, Walter's second marriage, and Annie was required to resign from her job due to restrictions on married women working in public service. However the two continued to collaborate, while Annie accompanied Walter on solar eclipse expeditions.

In 1897 Annie received a grant from Girton College to acquire a short-focus camera with a 1.5-inch lens which she took on expeditions. She used this camera to photograph the outer solar corona from India in 1898.

Annie published "The Heavens and their Story" in 1908, with her husband Walter as co-author. (She was credited by her husband as the primary author.) The book contains her photographs of the sun and the Milky Way. In 1916 she became the first woman elected to the Royal Astronomical Society after the bar on women was lifted, 20 years after she was first proposed. She returned to the Royal Greenwich Observatory as a volunteer during World War I, working there from 1915 to 1920. Many of her observations were published in popular journals under her husband's name before she was named as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.[1]

The investigations of the Maunders demonstrated a correlation between the variation in sunspot numbers and the climate of the Earth, leading to the discovery that the period of decreased solar activity during the Maunder Minimum likely resulted in the Little Ice Age. Annie was regarded as an expert in eclipse photography and was asked to take charge of photography of the Canadian Government's eclipse expedition to Labrador in August 1905. This was the only time her expenses were paid for a scientific expedition; the weather ended up being cloudy and no eclipse observations were taken.

Personal life[edit]

Walter and Annie had no children together, although Walter had five children from a previous marriage. Walter died in 1928 at the age of 76. Annie died almost two decades later aged 80 in Wandsworth, London, England in 1947.


The crater Maunder on the Moon is jointly named for Walter and Annie Maunder. The Maunder Minimum is named after them both too.


  • M. T. Bruck (1994). "Alice Everett and Annie Russell Maunder, torch bearing women astronomers". Irish Astronomical Journal 21: 280–291. Bibcode:1994IrAJ...21..281B. 
  • M. T. Bruck, S. Grew (1996). "The Family Background of Annie S. D. Maunder (nee Russell)". Irish Astronomical Journal 23: 55–56. Bibcode:1996IrAJ...23...55B. 
  1. ^ Lab Coats and Lace: The Lives and Legacies of Inspiring Irish Women Scientists and Pioneers. p. 80. ISBN 9780953195312. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 

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