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A: Oleśnica, Województwo dolnośląskie, Poland

Maria Cunitz's Urania Propitia, Possibly the Earliest High-Level Printed Scientific Book Written by a Woman


In 1650 Silesian astronomer Maria Cunitz (Maria Cunitia, Cunicia, Cunitzin, Kunic, Cunitiae, Kunicia, Kunicka) published Urania Propitia, sive Tabulae Astronomicae. . . in Olesnica (Oels), present day Poland. Publication of this work—the earliest high-level printed scientific book written by a woman—caused Cunitz to be aclaimed as the most learned worman in astronomy since the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria.

Urania Propitia, published with parallel texts in Latin and German, was a simplification of Kepler's Tabulae Rudolphinae (1627) providing new tables, and new ephemera.

"Maria Cunitz's 550-page book is a complete reworking of the mathematics of Johannes Kepler's Rudolphine Tables (1627) for the computation of planetary positions. Her objective was to simplify the calculations, primarily by elimination of logarithms. Her book provides 300 pages of tables of numbers and a new calculation method glossed with 250 pages of text written in both German and Latin. Considering the mathematical accomplishment represented by her book, Cunitz seems to have been the most advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of her time" (Smeltzer, Ruben, Rose, Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine, New York: The Grolier Club, 2013, no. 106).

"Today, her [Cunitz's] book is also credited for its contribution to the development of the German scientific language" (Wikipedia article on Maria Cunitz, accessed 10-07-2013).

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