Helen Sawyer Hogg
|This article reads like a news release, or is otherwise written in an overly promotional tone. (November 2012)|
|Helen Sawyer Hogg|
Plaque to Helen Sawyer Hogg at Canada Science and Technology Museum
1 August 1905|
|Died||28 January 1993
Richmond Hill, Ontario
|Institutions||David Dunlap Observatory, University of Toronto|
|Known for||globular clusters|
|Notable awards||Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy
Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg, CC (1 August 1905 – 28 January 1993) was an astronomer noted for her research into globular clustersand variable stars. Recognized as a "great scientist and a gracious person", Helen was a renowned and well respected astronomer during her sixty year long career. In addition to her ground breaking work in astronomy, she was a notable woman in science during a time in which women were not allowed to receive scientific degrees at many universities. Admirably, Helen did all of this while also balancing the her family obligations. She is often remembered for her scientific advocacy and awareness work, which included two astronomy columns; "With the Stars" (which ran from 1951 until 1981 in the Toronto Star), and "Out of Old Books" which ran from 1946 until 1965 in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. A pioneering woman in astronomy research, Helen also broke barriers by becoming the first woman president of several astronomical organizations.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts on August 1, 1905, Helen was the second daughter of banker Edward Everett Sawyer and his wife Carrier Sprague Sawyer who was previously a schoolteacher. Talented academically, Helen graduated from Lowell High School at the age of 15, but chose to stay for an additional year before leaving to attend Mount Holyoke College in 1922. 
After graduating from high school, Helen enrolled in Mount Holyoke College to pursue chemistry. In her junior year (1925), even though she had nearly completed her degree in chemistry, she changed her major to astronomy after taking introductory astronomy classes with Dr. Anne Sewell. With a total eclipse of the sun taking place in January of 1925 within a hundred miles of Mount Holyoke, Dr. Sewell took her class to see it, which Helen cited for the rest of her life as one of the defining moments that lead to her career studying stars. A year later, this first experience was solidified when Annie Jump Cannon, an astronomer working at Harvard University, came to visit Mount Holyoke. In 1926 Helen completed her undergraduate degree in astronomy, graduating magna cum laude.
After graduating from Mount Holyoke, Helen received a fellowship for graduate study at Harvard Observatory in the fall of 1926 with the help of Dr. Cannon. Once at Harvard Helen worked with Dr. Harlow Shapley, the director of the graduate program in astronomy. Following the expectations and work ethic of Dr. Shapley, Helen worked hard, long hours measuring the size and brightness of globular clusters, during which time she published several papers. Helen received her master's degree in 1928 and her doctoral degree in 1931, both from Radcliffe College as Harvard refused to award graduate degrees in science to women at the time.
While completing her doctoral degree, Helen taught astronomy at Mount Holyoke and at Smith College. After graduation she moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where she began research at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Here Helen began taking photos of variable stars on the 72 inch reflecting telescope, cataloguing the cyclical changes in the brightness of the variable stars. Over the course of her time at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Helen found 132 new variable stars in the globular cluster Messier 2. Helen published this ground breaking work in astronomical catalogues that are still used today. Notably, Helen accomplished all of this as a volunteer assistant to her husband, as the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory would not offer her a job.
In 1935 Helen moved to the University of Toronto, after her husband had received a job offer to work at the David Dunlap Observatory. For her first year there, Helen continued her work photographing globular clusters, amassing thousands of photographs which she used to identify many thousands of variable stars. She published Catalogue of 1116 Variable Stars in Globular Clusters in 1939, which proved to be the first of three catalogues she completed during her lifetime, with a fourth in the works at the time of her death.  In addition to her work on variable stars in globular clusters, Helen used the period-luminosity relationship of Cepheid variable stars (discovered by Henrietta Swan Leavitt in 1908) to enhance the understanding of the Milky Way Galaxy's age, size and structure. 
During the late 1930s, Helen began traveling around the world, one of the first astronomers to do so, in order to advance her research as the globular clusters she was observing were best seen from the southern hemisphere.
From 1939-1941, Helen went back to America to serve as the president of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (1939-1941) and the acting chairman of Mount Holyoke's astronomy department (1940-1941). Upon returning to the David Dunlap Observatory, she took on teaching duties at the University of Toronto, largely as a result of male staff being away due to World War II. Retaining her position after the men returned from war, Helen advanced to assistant professor in 1951, associate professor in 1955, full professor in 1957, and professor emerita in 1976 upon her retirement.  Over her research career Helen published more than 200 papers, and was a leading authority in astronomy.
Scientific Advocacy, Awareness, and Service
Not limiting herself to publishing purely on her astronomical speciality of variable stars in globular clusters, Helen published on the history of astronomy through her column "Out of Old Books", which was published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. She was also known for the 30 years she spent writing her weekly column "With the Stars", which was published in the Toronto Star. In addition, Helen popularized astronomy with her book The Stars Belong to Everyone in 1976, an eight-show television series on Canadian educational television in 1970, and her founding of the Astronomical Society of Canada. She also actively supported women to pursue science.
In addition to her advocacy and awareness work, "Helen presided over several Canadian astronomical and scientific organizations", and "served on the board of directors of Bell Telephone Company of Canada from 1968 to 1978". She was also the director of the National Science Foundation's astronomy program, and in this position she "helped determine sites for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and for Kitt Peak National Observatory" in 1955. In 1960, "she became the first woman president of the physical sciences section of the Royal Society of Canada", as well as "the first female president of the Royal Canadian Institute (1964-1965)".
Helen married husband and fellow astronomy student at Harvard Frank Scott Hogg in 1930, and the two moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1931. Helen gave birth to the couple's daughter Sally there in June of 1932. Happily, Helen found having a child was manageable, and she was able to continue her observation work by bringing her sleeping daughter with her to the observatory at night in a basket. The observatory's director, Dr. J.S. Plaskett, also was supportive; he gave Helen a research grant of $200, which she used to hire a full time housekeeper for an entire year providing further support for her research work.
In 1935, the couple moved to Ontario to work at the University of Toronto's David Dunlap Observatory, where the couple's second child David was born in January of 1936, followed shortly by their third child James in September of 1937.  Frank unexpectedly died in 1951 of a heart attack, at which point Helen picked up many of his professional responsibilities in addition to raising their three children. In 1985, Helen married F.E.L. Priestley, a colleague and professor emeritus of English at the University of Toronto, who died in 1988.
Helen died of a heart attack on January 28, 1993, in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Awards and Honors
- Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society in 1950.
- Klumpke-Roberts Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1984.
- Rittenhouse Astronomical Society Silver Medal Award in 1967.
- The Centennial Medal of Canada in 1967.
Honors and Dedications
- Made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1968, and promoted to Companion in 1976 - considered one of the highest honors in the nation.
- The asteroid 2917 Sawyer Hogg is named after her.
- The National Museum of Science in Ottawa Ontario is dedicated to Helen, as is the University of Toronto telescope at its Souther University observatory in Chile.
- Shearer, B.F., & Shearer, B.S. (1997). Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
- Maisel, M., & Smart, L. (1997). Helen Sawyer Hogg. Retrieved from Women in Science: A Selection of 16 Significant Contributors: http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/credits.html
- Hinds, M. (2006). Helen Sawyer Hogg. Helen Sawyer Hogg, 1.
- Astronomy Hogg's Lifetime Work. (2002, March 25). Pittsburgh Post - Gazette, pp.C-8.
- Malerbo, D. (2009, March 26). Helen Sawyer Hogg. Pittsburg, PA: Pittsburg Post - Gazette.
- RASC Publications Our Printer History; Out of Old Books. (2013). Retrieved from Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: http://www.rasc.ca/outofoldbooks
- Hogg-Priestly, Helen Battles Sawyer (1905-1993). (1998). In The Penguin Biographical Dictionary of Women. Retrieved from http://credoreference.com.ezproxy.rit.edu/penbdw/hogg_priestler_helen_battles_sawyer
- Order of Canada Citation, archived in the Internet Archive, September 30, 2007
- Astronomy was Helen Hogg's lifetime work
- U.Toronto biography
- Helen Sawyer Hogg Honored
- Out of Old Books: Essays on the History of Astronomy by Helen Sawyer Hogg
- Oral History interview transcript with Helen Sawyer Hogg 17 August 1979, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives
- Bibliography from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- The San Diego Supercomputer Center Presents Women in Science, A Selection of 16 Significant Contributors