CHARLIE MARY NOBLE
Yes, her name was "Charlie." She went to college back in the 1890s when few women did, earning her Bachelors degree in science from the University of Texas and a Masters degree in science from Texas Christian University (TCU).
Miss Noble began her career as a math teacher at Pascal High school in 1897 and teaching became the greatest love of her life. After 22 years she became head of the math department. While there she started the Penta Club, one of the first science clubs for young people in Fort Worth. After 46 years of dedicated service she retired from the high school –-but not from teaching.
In the mid 1940s, During WWII, Miss Noble was asked to teach a celestial navigation class for U.S. Navy officer trainees at TCU. In 1947 she began teaching an astronomy course at TCU. That same year she organized a Junior Astronomy Club at the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, which would later become the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
In recognition of her many years of service Miss Noble received an honorary doctorate from TCU in 1950. In 1954 she received the Altrusa Civic Award as the “First Lady of Fort Worth” for stimulating interest in astronomy in young people. In 1955 the Museum’s planetarium was dedicated to her, being the first planetarium in the entire world named for a woman. In 1956 she became the first woman to receive the Astronomical Leagues’ annual award for her advancement of astronomical knowledge.
In 1957 and 1958 Miss Noble organized and ran the Moonwatch Program. Moon-watchers, who were all members of her Junior Astronomy Club at the Museum, tracked the positions of Sputnik and other satellites for the U.S. government that allowed scientists to determine their precise orbits. It was not uncommon for the children of the Junior Astronomy Club to meet well-known astronomers at their club meetings. Miss Noble was personal friends with Henry Neely, an astronomer from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. His book, The Stars by Clock and Fist, was dedicated to Miss Noble. The Moonwatch team was recognized for its work by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Miss Noble passed away a year later in 1959, but her great heavenly achievements will never be forgotten. Her work continues at the Museum.