Fund the Concrete Visitor Center Foundation


“Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.”
— Jeremy Knowles, discussing the lack of recognition Cecilia Payne gets, even today, for her revolutionary discovery.

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Cecilia’s mother didn’t have enough money to send her bright young daughter to college. So Cecilia won a scholarship to Cambridge.

Cecilia completed her studies, but Cambridge wouldn’t give her a degree because she was a woman, so she said to heck with that and moved to the United States to work at Harvard.

She was the first person ever to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College, with what Otto Strauve called “the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.”

Not only did Cecilia discover what the universe is made of, she also discovered what the sun is made of (Henry Norris Russell, a fellow astronomer, is usually given credit for discovering that the sun’s composition is different from the Earth’s, but he came to his conclusions four years later than Payne—after telling her not to publish).

Cecilia’s work is the foundation of why we know anything about variable stars (stars whose brightness as seen from Earth fluctuates). Every subsequent study on variable stars has been based on her work.

She was the first woman to be promoted to full professor from within Harvard, and is often credited with breaking the glass ceiling for women in the Harvard science department and in astronomy, as well as inspiring entire generations of women to take up science.

Though she did all of this starting at the turn of the last century, her work has gone mostly unacknowledged.


Here’s where you come in.

We’re going to show Cecilia some recognition, Wizard Academy style. Since her work was foundational to modern astronomy we’re going to name the concrete foundation of the new Visitor Center after her.

Thousands of people every year will enjoy the benefits our beautiful Visitor Center resting on a secure foundation. The foundation is integral to everything, and yet, much like Cecilia’s foundational contributions to science, the foundation and footers would normally go unnoticed.

Have you ever felt like that? Unnoticed. Unrecognized. Unappreciated.

Doesn’t feel very good, doesn’t it?

Know what does feel good?

Proper recognition.

With your sponsorship, we’ll make sure Cecilia, her accomplishments, and you are honored and immortalized. There’ll be a plaque, squarely at eye level and prominently displayed.

We think Cecilia was our kind of crazy.

Crazy awesome.

If you’d like to fund the CECILIA HELENA PAYNE Visitor Center foundation, then email Chancellor Whittington at and let him know your our kind of crazy too.

Because, after we’re all dead and long gone, it’s always the foundations of ancient buildings that they find.

Wizard Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so your gifts are fully tax-deductible in the U.S.