2019 | 64 | 1 | 147–155
Article title

“Peripheral” Astronomy in the Correspondence of Johannes Hevelius: A Case Study of Maria Cunitia and Elias von Löwen

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The letters of Johannes Hevelius reveal a very interesting map of the European astronomy of the 17th century. Significantly, Hevelius was not only a key agent in the transmission of scientific information among the main centres which, for example, made Gdańsk equally important as London and Paris for early modern uranography. Hevelius also exchanged letters with astronomers whose achievements are hardly ever discussed within the framework of the general history of astronomy. And yet the analysis of their activities allows for the complete reconstruction of 17th century astronomy, including its diversification which stemmed from the tensions between tradition and modernity as well as from the specific research interests of minor scholars. One such case is Maria Cunitia (1610–1664) and her husband, Elias von Löwen (Crätschmair; c. 1602–1661) based in Silesia. Maria Cunitia is acknowledged for her Urania Propitia (1650), an innovative adaptation of the mathematical astronomy of Johannes Kepler’s Rudolphine Tables. In turn von Löwen authored astronomical calendars and ephemerids. Their correspondence with Hevelius – 22 letters from the years 1648–1654 – constitutes an important source of knowledge about the astronomical ‘background’ which allowed them to complete their published works as well as about the activities of such astronomers from outside the major scientific centres. It is my intention to discuss the astronomical content of these letters.
Physical description
  • L. & A. Birkenmajer Institute for the History of Science, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
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