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Mary Shane

Astronomer, WifeUniversity of California, Berkeley

ScientistSpouse to Manhattan Project Worker

Mary Shane was an American astronomer and wife of astronomer C. Donald Shane.

Mary Shane, born Mary Lea Heger, graduated from the University of California in 1919, and received her Ph.D. in Astronomy there in 1924. In her thesis work, she was one of the first people to detect sodium atoms in interstellar space.

Donald and Mary Shane got married in 1920, just after Donald finished his Ph.D. A promising astronomer, Mary gave up a professional career in astronomy to raise her children and aid in her husband’s duties. While her husband worked as the Director of the Lick Observatory, Mary acted as the “scientific hostess” of the observatory community. She also established the archives of Lick Observatory, converting the old files into a proper center for historical material. When the Observatory headquarters moved to the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California in 1966, she helped set up space for the archives in the University Library, and led a group of volunteers to organize and file the large collection. These archives were named the Mary Lea Shane Archives of Lick Observatory in 1982, honoring her role in their founding.

Mary died on July 13, 1983. 

Mary Shane's Timeline
1897 Jul 13th Born in Wilmington, Delaware
1919 Received B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
1920 Married astronomer C. Donald Shane.
1924 Received Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.
1982 The Archives of Lick Observatory named in her honor.
1983 Jul 13th Died in Scotts Valley, California.

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