1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania play ‘Silent Sky’ tells story of pioneering female astronomer

Beginning Thursday, Transylvania University Theater’s production of “Silent Sky” will tell the true story of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who revolutionized our knowledge of the universe.

Written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Ave Lawyer, the play will run through March 3 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Reserve free tickets here.

When Leavitt began her work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she wasn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joined a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculated projects in “girl hours” and had no time for the women’s probing theories.

As Leavitt attempted to measure the light and distance of stars in her free time, she also took measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love.

The play explores a female’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Leavitt and her female peers believed in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.