Person: Cunitz, Maria
Maria Cunitz was an astronomer who published simpler versions of Kepler's work.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The date we have given for Maria's birth is unfortunately not known precisely.
- It is a little difficult now to assess exactly how far her education took her, but Johann Kaspar Eberti, writing in Educated Silesian Women and Female Poets in 1727 long after her death, claimed that Cunitz mastered many languages, in particular Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, Polish, Italian, and French.
- There are records of observations of Venus made by Cunitz and von Löwen in December 1627 and of Jupiter in April 1628.
- He continued to encourage his wife's interest in astronomy and Maria needed little encouragement to throw herself into this topic with enthusiasm.
- It was here that Cunitz began the mathematical work which led to her publishing Urania propitia, sive Tabulae Astronomicae mirè faciles Ⓣ(Happy Urania, or surprisingly easy astronomical tables) in 1650.
- In 1648 the couple were able to return to their home in Pitschen and Cunitz resumed correspondence which other leading astronomers and mathematicians as well as concentrating on her work on the tables.
- Cunitz found errors in the Kepler tables and also found that his use of logarithms made his tables difficult to use.
- The Urania propitia certainly has the merit of being simpler to use than Kepler's tables and Cunitz was able to correct a number of errors in the Rudolphine Tables.
- However, due to neglecting small terms in the formulas that she used, Cunitz introduced some new errors into the tables.
- Cunitz's introduction which follows was written in both Latin and German.
- According to Cunitz, there were four components to astronomy: carefully recorded observations, the construction of astronomical instruments, theory, and the calculations or tables of predictions.
- We mentioned above that Cunitz corresponded with other leading astronomers and mathematicians.
- It is not surprising that Boulliau considered that his tables gave more accurate data for the position of Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon than did Cunitz's tables.
- We have mentioned above the 1727 book Educated Silesian Women and Female Poets by Johan Kaspar Elberti in which he gives details of Cunitz's life.
Born about 1607, Schweidnitz, Silesia (now Świdnica, Poland). Died 22 August 1664, Pitschen, Duchy of Brieg, Silesia (now Byczyna, Poland).
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Poland, Women
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive