Women Observing Stars

Thanks to Vanessa Layne, who might have my favorite business name ever:

Integration by Parts                          Porter Square, Cambridge, MA
Psychotherapy for Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians

Vanessa sent me this email:

This astonishing painting just showed up on my Tumblr dash:


I don’t know anything about it.  I don’t know if it depicts actual
women who actually lived, and if they did what role they had in
astronomy (and I would love to know!)  I don’t know if it’s actually
from 1936 (is that style of telescope actually attested to then?)  And
not speaking or reading Japanese, I don’t know how to go about finding
more information.  Maybe you know somebody who could fill us in?  Or
perhaps you have readers who could help us learn about this beautiful

Mysterious as it is, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Even if it
doesn’t capture anything more than the artist’s fancy, I found it
moving and inspiring.

My favorite Librarian Sleuth, Sam Kome, found a couple of museum sources.  The Fukuoka Art Museum showed the piece from the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo from Aug. 21-Sep. 23, 2012. 

Notice the coloring looks a little different on the Fukuoka website.  Here’s the citation:  OTA Chou, Women Observing Stars,1936, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Sam may also have found out what type of telescope it is.  He says:

I think the telescope is a Nikon 20 cm refractive equatorial model built for the National Musem of Nature and Science in 1931 [1].  Peter Abrahams, a published telescope buff [2] thinks so too. 

[1]  “Nikon | Recollections | 25 cm Refractive Equatorial Telescope.” [Online]. Available: http://www.nikon.com/about/feelnikon/recollections/r29_e/index.htm. [Accessed: 22-Aug-2014].
[2]  “The history of the telescope and the binocular.” [Online]. Available: http://www.europa.com/~telscope/binotele.htm. [Accessed: 22-Aug-2014].







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1 Response to Women Observing Stars

  1. micamom says:

    What a fun mystery! But not much to report. Almost every hit is on tumblr, so I didn’t check those. There’s a 1990 Japanese stamp with the picture on it.

    1. Google Translates says the characters translate to “Women see the stars” :
    Hoshi wo miru josei 星をみる女性

    2. Wikimedia commons gives this: File:Women Watching Stars by Chou Ota, 1936, color on paper – National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo –

    3. You can buy a print of it at fineartamerica.com, but there aren’t any other Ota Chou prints.

    4. And at bloglovin.com, a death date for the artist and an amusing Tag :

    Women observing stars. 1936, Japan
    Artist Oota choou 太田聴雨 (1896-1958)
    Hoshi wo miru josei 星をみる女性 –
    (via danhoan)

    Tags: TOO COOL amazing art science!

    5. Google images gave me this. Spelling of artist’s name a little different:
    taishou-kun: Women observing stars. 1936, Japan Artist Oota choou 太田聴雨 · taishou-kun: Women observing stars. 1936, Japan

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