Wonder Woman Wednesday: Charlie Mary Noble

Charlie Mary Noble not only broke a lot of ground and challenged gender norms, but her work also took her across the galaxy. As the namesake of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Noble Planetarium, she is largely responsible for many of Fort Worth’s astrological resources and scientific culture.

Noble’s tireless efforts on behalf of astronomy and the many resources she established will make the upcoming total solar eclipse passing over Fort Worth this Monday, April 8, a day so many will never forget.

Noble graduated from Fort Worth High School in 1895 and went on to attend college when few women could. She earned her bachelor's degree in science from the University of Texas and a master's degree in science from Texas Christian University. She began her career as a math teacher at Paschal High School in 1897, and teaching became her passion. While there she became head of the Math Department and 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 World War II, TCU asked Miss Noble to teach a celestial navigation class for the U.S. Navy officer trainees. 

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, 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 dedicated its planetarium to her, and 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. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory recognized the Moonwatch team for its work. 

Charlie Mary Noble passed Nov. 30, 1959, but her legacy and contributions to science will continue to benefit Fort Worth for generations to come.