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CATERINA SCARPELLINI: ASTRONOMY AND METEOROLOGY IN RISORGIMENTO ROME

In: Nuncius
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Abstract

<title> ABSTRACT </title>Caterina Scarpellini (1808-1873) came to practice astronomy, as did the Italian female astronomers of the eighteenth century, because a male relative, her uncle, the director of the Roman Campidoglio Observatory needed an assistant. In contrast to the other female astronomers, she remained at the observatory after her uncle's death, established a name for herself in meteorology and astronomy, and became a corresponding member of various scientific academies, including the Academy of Georgofili of Florence. In this respect she was similar to the Italian female natural philosophers of the eighteenth century that had succeeded in being members of scientific institutions. However, Caterina was operating in Risorgimento Rome, and the social and political conditions she faced were different than those experienced by her eighteenth century counterparts. She never obtained a university degree and/or lectureship, and did not become an ordinary member of the academy her uncle had helped re-establish, the Academy of Lincei. Her exclusion from the Lincei was not due to the quality of her scientific research, which was sufficient to make her a member of the Georgofili; her gender and also political and philosophical considerations were of considerable importance in her exclusion.

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