Person: Peurbach, Georg
Georg Peurbach was an Austrian astronomer who published observations as well as a textbook on trigonometric calculation.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- It is worth recording that he matriculated under the name Georgius Aunpekh de Pewrbach.
- Georg studied at Vienna, graduating with a bachelor's degree on 2 January 1446.
- The last astronomer to teach at the University of Vienna was John of Gmunden who died four years before Peurbach matriculated there, but the university still held his library and instruments to which Peurbach probably was given access.
- He met the leading Italian astronomer of the day, Giovanni Bianchini, in Ferrara and he also tried to persuade Peurbach to accept a post in an Italian university.
- By 1453 Peurbach was back in Vienna and there he was awarded a Master's Degree on 28 February.
- Before continuing it is worth spending a moment reviewing the connection between astronomy and astrology in Peurbach's time.
- Ladislas was only 14 years of age when he appointed Peurbach but he had been King since he was a few months old under the guardianship of his cousin, who was later to become Holy Roman emperor Frederick III.
- Ladislas spent most of his time in Prague and Vienna and Peurbach was able to also teach at the University of Vienna.
- Frederick was interested in astrology, magic, and alchemy so Peurbach had a patron who would treat him well.
- Regiomontanus was a student at the University of Vienna where he was taught by Peurbach.
- He graduated at the age of fifteen and in the following year of 1453 he began collaborating with Peurbach.
- For eight years, until Peurbach's death, the two astronomers did excellent work together.
- In Theoricae Novae Planetarum Ⓣ(New theories of the planets), which he completed by 30 August 1454, Peurbach presented Ptolemy's epicycle theory of the planets in an elementary but thorough way.
- Peurbach believed that the planets were in solid crystalline spheres although he believed that their motions were controlled by the Sun.
- The book was based on lecture notes of a course given by Peurbach at the University of Vienna earlier in 1454.
- Peurbach observed a lunar eclipse on 3 September 1457 from a site near Vienna.
- Based on Ptolemy's theory, they represented the best data available in Peurbach's time.
- Peurbach produced a new collection of tables of eclipse calculations in Tabulae Ecclipsium which he completed around 1459.
- As an example of an instrument he devised we note that Peurbach discovered the deviation of the compass.
- The idea which he wanted to sell to Peurbach was to produce a better translation of the Almagest Ⓣ(The major thesis: from the Arabic 'al-majisti' -- the Arabic translation of the Greek 'Mathematike Syntaxis' later translated into Latin as 'Magna Syntaxis') from the Greek.
- Bessarion suggested that a shortened version would make a suitable teaching text and Peurbach agreed to work on the project.
- Peurbach had completed six books at the time of his death but Regiomontanus had agreed to complete the work.
Born 30 May 1423, Peuerbach, Austria. Died 8 April 1461, Vienna, Austria.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Austria
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive