English 13

One Woman’s Vision

As the telescope transitioned from an expensive, highly technical instrument used only by top scientists to a household implement that could be enjoyed by everyone, amateur astronomers, who had previously been1 merely speculating, became able to add legitimate insight into the world’s search for what lies beyond. One of these amateurs was Carolyn McDaniels, the daughter of a 19th century tanner, who had no formal education. McDaniels’ theoretical writings were discovered just a few decades ago; apparently, she used a rather rudimentary telescope to confirm some of the most extraordinary discoveries ever made by professionals.

First, since they came from the past2, McDaniels’ notes included the formation from a nearby field3 of a strange cloud of gas that she observed. Although4 gas clouds are not jarringly rare, this one had a coloration and size that led scientists, generations later, to confirm the existence of a nearby nebula that might otherwise have gone undetected for years.

McDaniels’ notes are also extremely detailed with respect to their careful tracking of star clusters. If a certain star was not visible for a night, McDaniels’ recorded this fact. These notes have provided invaluable assistance to modern-day scientists attempting to establish comet and lunar cycles from that era. The era’s5 other leaders of science, even ones working for government-funded projects, could not match McDaniels in her meticulous dedication to detail. A relative familiar with her works said that, although there was little chance of it ever happening, McDaniels wrote as if one would be published6 someday. [7]

It is well-documented that McDaniels’ notebooks were8 instrumental in creating local school curricula in the burgeoning field of astronomy. McDaniels outlined dozens of experiments that students, without a telescope or other equipment, could do that they would help9 children gain an appreciation of science through hands-on experience. One experiment was not enough to appreciate the stars fully10. Budding astronomers, as McDaniels called them, could learn far more11 through personal exploration than through guided classroom instruction.

Very little is known about the personal life of Carolyn McDaniels accept that12 she never married. Her dogged commitment to scientific research13 seemed to preclude any semblance of a romantic interest. Hopefully, she never views14 this solitude as a void in her life, and this is one of her greatest legacies.15