Today’s Doodle celebrates Turkish astronomer, Nüzhet Gökdoğan, who is widely recognized as one of Türkiye’s first female astronomers. On this day in 1910, Gökdoğan was born in Istanbul, Türkiye. The Doodle artwork was illustrated by İzmir-based guest artist Ali Çetinkaya.
During her schooling, she learned French, German, and Turkish. A college scholarship brought her to Lyon University in France, where she completed her undergraduate degree in mathematics, and in 1933 received her graduate degree in physics from the University of Paris. She interned at the Paris Observatory and they invited her to continue her research there, but Gökdoğan chose to return to Türkiye.
Channeling her passion for astronomy into teaching in this field, Gökdoğan became an associate professor at the Institute of Astronomy at the Faculty of Science at İstanbul University. When she joined as the first Turkish employee, both the textbooks and lectures were in foreign languages like English and German. Multilingual Gökdoğan stepped in and translated course material and six books on topics from Celestial Mechanics to Spherical Astronomy.
In 1937, Gökdoğan wrote her dissertation on interstellar dark matter around the sun and completed her Ph.D. She went on to become a professor at Istanbul University, and in 1954, she was elected as the Dean of the Science Faculty, making her the first female university dean in Türkiye. Gökdoğan authored scientific papers for national journals and three introductory textbooks on astronomy, algebra, and cosmography before retiring in 1980.
The professor is remembered for advancing the astronomy profession in Türkiye and for founding several groups dedicated to science, notably the Turkish Astronomy Association, the Turkish Association of University Women, and the Turkish Mathematics Association.
Happy birthday to the stellar Nüzhet Gökdoğan!
Guest Artist Q&A with Ali Çetinkaya
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by İzmir-based guest artist Ali Çetinkaya. Below, he shares his thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q. Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: It was wonderful to become acquainted with Nüzhet Gökdoğan, learning about her life and her accomplishments as a pioneering scholar in the history of the Turkish Republic. Her achievements serve as an inspiration and instill hope for the future of scientific thought in Türkiye.
Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached about working on this Doodle?
A: When I received the initial offer for the project, I was genuinely thrilled by their approach, which highlighted my artistic practice. It resonated with me and added an extra layer of enthusiasm to my involvement as I realized that I had the creative freedom to portray and connect with Nüzhet Gökdoğan through my illustration. Also, knowing that I could play a role in a project of significant impact and reach was both humbling and motivating.
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: Space and academia were the two main topics I chose as sources of inspiration. Space has always been a subject that deeply excites me. The ongoing human effort to understand and explain the vast unknown has archaic roots and fosters hope for a future where the mysteries are diminished.
Q. What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I hope my Doodle instills in others the same sense of hope and inspiration that it has given me.