Episode Description

The year is 1897 and Annie Maunder, an amateur astronomer, is boarding a steamship bound for India from England. Her goal: to photograph a total solar eclipse. Like the many people whose gaze will turn upwards in North America on April 8, Maunder was fascinated by the secrets of the sun and was determined to travel the globe and unlock them. She understood that the few minutes of darkness during a solar eclipse presented a special opportunity to explore the nature of the sun. Her observations led to our greater understanding of how the sun affects the earth, but like so many early female scientists, her contributions and achievements have been forgotten.

Annie and Walter on site in India

credit: H. Ellis, British Astronomical Association

Annie Maunder and her telescope in Algiers 1900

credit: H. Ellis, British Astronomical Association

Annie Maunder

credit courtesy of Dorrie Giles/Royal Astronomical Society

Annie Maunder

credit National Portrait Gallery

Art Design: Keren Mevorach. Credit: The National Portrait Gallery

Hosts: Katie Hafner, Samia Bouzid

Producer: Samia Bouzid

Samia is based in Philadelphia. Her work spans a range of themes, including science, language, and culture. She has contributed to shows such as the Duolingo French and Spanish podcasts, the BBC’s Short Cuts, and LWC Studios' 100 Latina Birthdays. She also writes scripts for science YouTube channels including SciShow and Be Smart. 


  • Silvia Dalla, Professor of Solar Physics, University of Central Lancashire
  • Lyndsay Fletcher, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Glasgow

Viewing the Eclipse

Want to view the eclipse in North America? Here’s all you need to know.

2024 Total Eclipse: Where & When (NASA)

How to Safely View the April 8, 2024, Total Solar Eclipse (NASA)

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2024 (Scientific American)

Further Reading

The Indian Eclipse 1898, edited by Walter Maunder (British Astronomical Association, 1899).

A pioneer of solar astronomy, by Silvia Dalla & Lyndsay Fletcher (Astronomy & Geophysics, 2016).

Stars and Satellites: Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy, by Mary Brück (Springer, 2012).

Obligatory amateurs: Annie Maunder (1868–1947) and British women astronomers at the dawn of professional astronomy, by Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie (British Journal for the History of Science, 2000).

The Heavens and Their Story, by Annie & Walter Maunder (Robert Culley, 1908).

A different sort of society, by Richard McKim, (Astronomy & Geophysics, 2016).

Episode Transcript

All Episodes