Thursday, March 21, 2024

Alenush Terian: The “Mother of Modern Iranian Astronomy”

Excerpted from IranWire

Terian at telescope
Alenush Terian at Sorbonne University (Credit: IranWire)

She is called the “Mother of Modern Iranian Astronomy” and for good reason: she was a cofounder of the first solar observatory in Iran and the first female professor of physics in the country. Her achievements become much more impressive once we learn that, besides being a woman in a patriarchal society, she also belonged to a religious and ethnic minority.

Alenush Terian was born in Tehran on November 9, 1920, to an Armenian family. Her father, Arto Terian, and mother, Varto Terian, were two famous faces in the city’s Armenian theater. Arto owned a drama workshop and had studied theater and acted in Moscow. Varto was a graduate of literature and rhetoric and became one of the first Iranian women to direct a play.

Her parents supported her choice of engaging in a different career path, Alenush said in an interview: "My parents had a very clear and modern mindset, and weren’t the type to prevent me from studying or impose a certain field of study on me. Since they were artists and I had some writing experience, they had hoped I would pursue a degree in literature. But when they found out that I wanted to study physics, they didn’t show any opposition, and always encouraged and supported me on this path."


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