Isis Pogson

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Elizabeth Isis Pogson
Born 28 September 1852
Oxford, England
Died 14 May 1945(1945-05-14) (aged 92)
Croydon, London
Nationality British
Other names Elizabeth Isis Kent
Known for Astronomy

Isis Pogson (born Elizabeth Isis Pogson; 28 September 1852–14 May 1945) was a British astronomer and meteorologist.


Early life[edit]

Pogson was born in Oxford, England, the eldest[1] daughter of Norman Pogson by his first marriage to Elizabeth Jane Ambrose (died 1869).[2] She was likely named after the River Isis, the part of the River Thames that flows through Oxford.[3]

Role of her father[edit]

Norman Pogson was an assistant at Radcliffe Observatory and then at Hartwell Observatory. He discovered the asteroid 42 Isis on May 23, 1856,[3][4] for which he was awarded the Lalande Prize.[5] The asteroid was named by Professor Manuel John Johnson, director of the Radcliffe Observatory, presumably in honor of Pogson's daughter Isis; it could also have been a reference to the River Isis.[3]

When her father became director of the Madras Observatory in Madras, India, in October 1860, he travelled to his new post with his first wife and three[4] of his 11[2] children, including Isis. His wife died in 1869, and he relied upon Isis to look after his other children.[6] She also worked in India as her father's assistant.[5] She was given the post of computer at the observatory in 1873 with the salary of 150 rupees,[6][7] equivalent to a "cook or coach-man",[5] and worked there for 25 years until she retired with a pension of 250 rupees[6] in 1898, when the observatory closed. She served as the meteorological superintendent and reporter for the Madras government from 1881.[1][8]

First woman to join Royal Astronomical Society[edit]

Pogson was the first woman to attempt to join the Royal Astronomical Society, being nominated (unsuccessfully) by her father in 1886.[5] Her nomination was withdrawn when two attorneys deemed female fellows illegal.[9] She was successfully nominated in 1920 by Oxford professor H. H. Turner, five years after the Royal Astronomical Society first opened its doors to women.[6][10]


After retiring from astronomy, she married Herbert Clement Kent, a captain in the Merchant Navy,[6] on 17 August 1902 in Red Hill, Queensland, Australia.[1] The couple returned to England, living in Bournemouth and then London. Pogson died in Croydon.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Marriages: Kent–Pogson". The Queenslander. 23 August 1902. p. 400. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Trimble, Virginia (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Volume 2. Springer. p. 920. ISBN 0387310223. 
  3. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2009). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer. p. 15. ISBN 3642019668. 
  4. ^ a b Reddy, V., Snedegar, K., & Balasubramanian, R. K. "Scaling the magnitude: The fall and rise of N. R. Pogson". Journal of the British Astronomical Association 117 (5): 237–245. 
  5. ^ a b c d Brück, Mary (2009). Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy. Springer. p. 157. ISBN 978-90-481-2472-5. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Hutchins, Roger (2004). Pogson, Norman Robert (1829–1891). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press). Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich (September 1984). "Women Astronomers in Britain, 1780-1930". Isis 75 (3). 
  8. ^ Black, Charles E.D. (1891). A memoir on the Indian Surveys, 1875-1890. p. 293. 
  9. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (1986). Women in science: antiquity through the nineteenth century: a biographical dictionary with annotated bibliography (3 ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 026265038X. 
  10. ^ Hockey, Thomas (2007). The biographical encyclopedia of astronomers ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). New York, NY: Springer. ISBN 9780387310220.