Annie Russell Maunder

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Annie Scott Dill Maunder
BornAnnie Scott Dill Russell
14 April 1868
Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland
Died15 September 1947 (aged 79)
Wandsworth, London, England, UK
Other namesAnnie Russell Maunder
Known forAstronomy
Spouse(s)Edward Walter Maunder (1895–1928)

Annie Russell Maunder (14 April 1868 – 15 September 1947) was an Irish astronomer and mathematician.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Annie Scott Dill Russell was born in 1868 in The Manse, Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland, to William Andrew Russell and Hessy Nesbitt Russell (née Dill).[7] Her father was the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Strabane until 1882.[4] She 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.[1][3][4]

She studied at Cambridge University (Girton College) and in 1889 she passed the degree examinations with honours, as the top mathematician of her year at Girton, and ranked Senior Optime (equivalent to second class at other universities) in the university results list. However the restrictions of the period did not allow her to receive the B.A. degree she would otherwise have earned.[3]

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.[citation needed]

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. She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in November 1916,[8] ten months after the bar on female Fellows was lifted. She had first been nominated for election 24 years earlier.[9] Earlier she had become a member of the British Astronomical Association, which her husband had helped found in 1890. Although he had been fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society since 1875, Maunder wanted an association of astronomers open to every person interested in astronomy, from every class of society, and especially open for women.

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.[10]

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. 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.[citation needed]

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 79, in Wandsworth, London in 1947.[1]


The crater Maunder on the Moon is jointly named for Walter and Annie Maunder, as is the Maunder Minimum.[11]

In June 2018 it was announced that the Royal Observatory Greenwich has installed a new telescope in its Altazimuth Pavilion, the Annie Maunder Astrographic Telescope (AMAT), as part of a revival of telescopy in London enabled by cleaner air and advanced technology. There is also to be an exhibition about Maunder's story, on the ground floor of the building.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Evershed, M. A. (1948). "Annie Scott Dill Maunder". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Royal Astronomical Society. 108 (1): 48–49. Bibcode:1948MNRAS.108...48.. doi:10.1093/mnras/108.1.48. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  2. ^ Evershed, M. A. (1947). "Obituary: Mrs. Walter Maunder". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. British Astronomical Association. 57 (6): 238. Bibcode:1947JBAA...57..238. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Brück, Mary T. (1994). "Alice Everett and Annie Russell Maunder, torch bearing women astronomers". Irish Astronomical Journal. 21: 280–291. Bibcode:1994IrAJ...21..281B.
  4. ^ a b c Brück, Mary T.; Grew, S. (1996). "The Family Background of Annie S. D. Maunder (née Russell)". Irish Astronomical Journal. 23: 55–56. Bibcode:1996IrAJ...23...55B.
  5. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (2000). "Obligatory Amateurs: Annie Maunder (1868–1947) and British Women Astronomers at the Dawn of Professional Astronomy". British Journal for the History of Science. 33: 67–84. doi:10.1017/s0007087499003878.
  6. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (2014). "Maunder, Annie Scott Dill Russell". In Hockey, Thomas; Trimble, Virginia; Williams, Thomas R. Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. New York: Springer Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-9917-7_912. ISBN 978-1-4419-9917-7. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  7. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  8. ^ "1916 November 10 meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society". The Observatory. 39: 479. 1916. Bibcode:1916Obs....39..479., see. p. 492.
  9. ^ Bailey, Mandy (2016). "Women and the RAS: 100 Years of Fellowship" (PDF). Astronomy & Geophysics. Royal Astronomical Society. 57 (1): 19–21. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  10. ^ Lab Coats and Lace: The Lives and Legacies of Inspiring Irish Women Scientists and Pioneers. p. 80. ISBN 9780953195312. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  11. ^ Annan, James (6 July 2009). "James' Empty Blog: Who named the Maunder Minimum?".
  12. ^ Amos, Jonathan (25 June 2018). "UK's forgotten woman astronomer honoured". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2018.

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