Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki

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

Data publikacji: 28.03.2019

Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki, 2019, Tom 64, Numer 1, s. 147 - 155



Jarosław Włodarczyk
Instytut Historii Nauki im. Ludwika i Aleksandra Birkenmajerów Polskiej Akademii Nauk, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warszawa
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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.


Manuscript sources

Bibliothèque d’Observatoire de Paris, Correspondance de Johannes Hevelius, C1, v. 1–3.

Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), NAF 6206, 234–237 (124r–125r).

Printed sources

Cunitia M., Urania Propitia, Oleśnica 1650.

Herbinius J., Dissertatio historica I, De foeminarum illustrium erudition, Wittenberg 1657.

Critical literature

Astronom Maria Kunic (Cunitia) 1610–1664. Życie i dzieło, ed. by R. Skowron, Świdnica 2008.

Correspondance de Johannes Hevelius. Tome I: Prolégomènes critiques, ed. by C. Grell, Turnhout 2014.

Guentherodt I., Zum Briefwechsel des schlesischen Gelehrtenehepaars Cunitia / de Leonibus um 1650 mit den Astronomen Hevelius, Danzig und Bullialdus, Paris, [in:] Kommunikation in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. by K.-D. Herbst and S. Kratochwil, Frankfurt 2009, pp. 171–188.

Liwowsky K., Einige Neuigkeiten über die Familie der Schlesierin Maria Cunitz, 3rd edition, Koblencja 2010.

Saridakis V., The Hevelius – Hooke Controversy in Context: Transfroming Astronomical Practice in the Late Seventeenth Century, [in:] Johannes Hevelius and His World: Astronomer, Cartographer, Philosopher and Correspondent, ed. by R.L. Kremer and J. Włodarczyk, Warszawa 2013 (Studia Copernicana, vol. XLIV), pp. 103–135.

Straker S., Kepler, Tycho, and the ‘Optical part of astronomy’: the genesis of Kepler’s theory of pinhole images, “Archive for history of exact sciences” vol. 24, 1981, pp. 267–293.

Swerdlow N.M., Urania Propitia, Tabulae Rudolphinae faciles redditae a Maria Cunitia. Beneficent Urania, the Adaptation of the Rudolphine Tables by Maria Cunitz, [in:] A Master of Science History: Essays in Honor of Charles Coulston Gillispie, ed. by J.Z. Buchwald, Dordrecht 2012, pp. 81–121.

Targosz K., Sawantki w Polsce XVII w. Aspiracje intelektualne kobiet ze środowisk dworskich, Warszawa 1997.

Włodarczyk J., Libration of the Moon, Hevelius’s Theory, and Its Early Reception in England, “Journal for the History of Astronomy” vol. 42, 2011, pp. 495–519.

Włodarczyk J., Kremer R.L., Hughes H.C., Edward Gresham, Copernican Cosmology, and Planetary Occultations in Pre-Telescopic Astronomy, “Journal for the History of Astronomy” vol. 49, 2018, pp. 269–305.


Informacje: Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki, 2019, s. 147 - 155

Typ artykułu: Oryginalny artykuł naukowy


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


Instytut Historii Nauki im. Ludwika i Aleksandra Birkenmajerów Polskiej Akademii Nauk, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warszawa

Publikacja: 28.03.2019

Status artykułu: Otwarte __T_UNLOCK

Licencja: CC BY-NC-ND  ikona licencji

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