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Silent Sky: A Recap By: Alex Guillory

The Hardin-Simmons Theater closed its show Silent Sky this past Sunday, and it was a fan favorite.

The performance brought everyone in the audience along for an emotional roller coaster ride with the witty jokes and tear-jerking confessions of unrequited love and there was not a dry eye in the audience when the show closed with Henrietta Leavitt's speech from the heavens.

She reminisced on the amazing things that she and Annie Cannon and Williamina Fleming accomplished in their small Hardvard office. The three amazing women left a legacy that forever changed the course of science and the basis of our understanding of outer space. Leavitt’s closing speech left the audience with a smile on their tear-stained face because they learned how influential the women’s discoveries were. The play closes with a sense of hope and wonders for the unknown. These three women taught the audience the importance of unwavering passion and how powerful a woman can be when she is up against all odds.

Henrietta Leavitt recorded 2,400 different cepheids before her death in 1921. Her dedication to these “blinking” stars led to her groundbreaking discovery of the correlation between period and luminosity. The woman who sat next to Leavitt in the small computing office was Annie Cannon. Cannon developed a classification system that sorted stars according to their temperature, and this system is still used in laboratories and classrooms today.

Later in Cannon’s life, she devoted her passion to the Women's Suffrage Movement. The last of the women was Williamina Fleming, who overcame poverty and single motherhood after she immigrated from Scotland. She worked her way up from being a housemaid to working at Harvard and documenting over 300 variable stars and 59 gaseous nebulae by the end of her life. She also developed the Pickering-Fleming system to classify stars based on the relative amount of hydrogen in their spectra.

The cast of Silent Sky put these women on the scientific pedestals that they have deserved to stand on since they began their research in the early twentieth century. It was the most emotionally moving play that I have seen at Hardin-Simmons. I walked out of Van Ellis Theater in awe of this moving drama that I was lucky enough to experience, and it has changed my outlook on the night sky. This play has provided me with a newfound appreciation for fearless women who are driven by an undeniable passion for science.


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