Sujata Tibrewala's work on Cecilia Payne, the "pioneering astronomer" at Life Force Arts, Chicago

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The pioneering 20th century astronomer who explained the composition of the stars is to be featured at Life Arts' Human Spirit Exhibit from Jan 24-March 12, 2014 through a painting done by artist Sujata Tibrewala

Cecilia Payne: The explorer of the Stellar Atmosphere

The explorer of the Stellar Atmosphere

"There is no joy more intense than that of coming upon a fact that cannot be understood in terms of currently accepted ideas." —Cecilia Payne

The Spiritual Power of Art exhibit series at Life Force Arts, Chicago, explores three different meanings of “spirit”: Human Spirit, Universal Energy and Mystical & Religious Experience. The Human Spirit exhibit focuses on spirit as greatness of human character: people who triumph over adversity, encourage others, are gracious and welcoming, stand up for justice, show kindess and compassion, give wise counsel.

Cecilia Payne, now considered the founder of modern astronomy, could not get even get her Bachelor's degree in 1919 because Cambridge did not confer degrees to women. She travelled to US to join Harvard because in England she could only become a teacher since she was a woman. She had to declare her Doctoral results to be "of course not real" because her guide/mentor at Harvard thought she was wrong.

From the time she finished her Ph.D. through the 1930s, Payne advised students, conducted research, and lectured—all the usual duties of a professor. Yet, because she was a woman, her only title at Harvard was “technical assistant” to Professor Shapley. This work is today recognized as one of "the most brilliant thesis" in astronomy. This work is the basis of how star compositions are studied just by their spectrum, never even setting foot on them, and states that Sun and all stars are made primarily of "Hydrogen and Helium".

It took 26 years for her to become a full professor (the first woman so recognized at Harvard) and chair of the Astronomy Department and another 20 when her fellow astronomers finally appreciated her genius. In 1976, the American Astronomical Society awarded her the prestigious Henry Norris Russell Prize.

Through her hard work and passion, she paved a path for all the future astronomers by advancing human knowledge and made it possible for women to hold posts in academia . This is why she exemplifies what is good and great in the "Human Spirit". And this is what is brought forth in Sujata Tibrewala's brilliant rendition of her "Cecilia Payne: The Explorer of Stellar Atmosphere" which is to be exhibited at Life Force Arts starting on Jan 24th 2014.

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Sujata Tiberwala
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