TITLE: Hevelius, Catherina Elisabetha Koopman

 

DATES AND PLACES OF BIRTH AND DEATH:

Born: 1647 January 17; Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland

Died: 1693 December 22; Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland

Nationality: Polish

 

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS:

Father: Rich merchant.

Married: 1663 February 3, St Catherine's Church, Danzig: Johannes Hevelius, one year after death of first wife of Johannes.

Children: Three daughters, who all lived to maturity, married, and had children; one son who died at age one year.

Education: Unusually well educated for a woman of the era.

Publications: After the death of Johannes, Elisabetha edited many of his unpublished writings.

Brief Biography:

At age 16, Elisabetha married Johannes Hevelius, who had been widowed the year before. There was a difference in age of 36 years between them.

 

Unusually well educated for a woman of the era, Elisabetha was of considerable assistance to Johannes in the operation of his observatory in Danzig. Two plates of Machina coelestis show Elisabetha aiding her husband in the observatory.

 

Elisabetha served as hostess, when Johannes entertained other astronomers of the era, the most noted being Edmund Halley.

 

After her husband's death, she edited many of his unpublished writings.

 

 

ASTRONOMICAL CONTRIBUTION AND SIGNIFICANCE:

Provided great assistance in the operation of Hevelius' observatory.

 

Edited many of the unpublished works of Hevelius, after his death.


Catherina Elisabetha Koopman Hevelius is one of the earliest woman astronomers for which there are any records. Indeed, according to aerospace scientist engineer and astronomical historian Dr. Dora Musielak, Madame Koopman Hevelius was "the first woman astronomer of which we have a picture showing her observing the heavens."

In recorded history, only two women astronomers predate Madame Koopman Hevelius. The first is Hypatia of Alexandria, who did not have the benefit of a telescope. The second is Maria Cunitia (c. 1604-1664) [Also see asteroid named for Madame Cunitia], the daughter of a Polish physician who published the Urania Propitia in 1650, a collection of astronomical tables based on Kepler's Rudolphine Tables.

Picture of Elisabetha and Johannes Hevelius Observing the Heavens
From an original engraving in Hevelius' book

More detailed biographies of Catherina Elisabetha Koopman Hevelius: Link 1 *** Link 2 *** Link 3 *** Link 4

Musielak, Dr. Dora. "Stories of Women Stargazers" Address.
University of Texas, Arlington, Library 2009 March 30.
(Address is in .pdf format: 6.14 Megabytes; allow time for download)

Aerospace Scientist Engineer and Astronomical Historian Dr. Dora Musielak delivered a presentation on early women astronomers, including Catherina Elisabetha Koopman Hevelius, as one of the events for the International Year of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Arlington. The presentation, open to the general public, occurred in the sixth floor library parlor of the University Library, from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2009.

12625 Koopman - Main-Belt Asteroid Named for Catherina Elisabetha Koopman Hevelius
Discovered 1960 Oct. 17; Named 2009 April 9

Also see --

"Observatory of Hevelius" exhibit, displayed at Pittsburgh's original
Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
1939 October 24 to 1991 August 31
(Photograph of Exhibit).

Benningfield, Damond. "Sextans." Program Script.
StarDate Radio Program 2009 June 14.
Regarding Constellation Sextans, named by Johannes Hevelius.

Biography: Polish Scientist Maria Skodowska Curie, Discoverer of Elements Radium and Polonium

 

AUTHOR AND AUTHOR AFFILIATION:

Glenn A. Walsh, free-lance writer and Internet web page designer. Former Planetarium Lecturer and Astronomical Observatory Coordinator,Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh. Former Treasurer and Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Carnegie, Pa. The author can be contacted by electronic mail:

< gawalsh@planetarium.cc >.

 

Copyright MMII - MMIX, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved