Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Hypatia - 4th Century Woman Astronomer
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 29, 2010

The death of Hypatia, and the loss of the world's largest collection of scientific and mathematic writings, were factors that contributed to the halt of scientific advances in the West halt for nearly a thousand years.

The new movie Agora chronicles the life, challenges and death of Hypatia, a 4th Century woman astronomer whose contribution influenced and shaped modern science and our understanding of the world and the universe. Mabel Armstrong, author of the award-winning book Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars, tells Hypatia's story with the joy that a great science teacher (which she was) can bring to an old subject.

When Hypatia was born, her father, Theon, was a professor of mathematics and astronomy in Alexandria. He believed, as many Greeks did, that it was possible to raise a perfect human being. So he gave his daughter the best possible education, including studies in mathematics, languages, rhetoric, and natural philosophy-or science.

Upper-class women of the time were usually secluded, expected to devote themselves solely to their husband and children, but Hypatia found a job at the most famous institution in the ancient world, the library at Alexandria. She taught mathematics, physics, and astronomy, and wrote many books about these subjects-thirteen books on algebra, her favorite subject, and another eight books on geometry.

She also designed an astrolabe, an instrument used to measure the positions of the stars, another important tool for sailors, which let them locate specific stars and use the stars' positions for navigation. She used her astrolabe to calculate the positions of specific stars, and then published her data in tables. Sailors and astronomers used her tables of positions of the stars, Astronomical Canon, for the next 1200 years.

In her classes and public lectures, Hypatia exhorted people to think critically. "Reserve your right to think," she said. "For even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all."

When Hypatia sided with Orestes, the Roman governor of Egypt, in a power struggle with Cyril, the head of the Christian Church in Alexandria, her enemies decided to silence her. An angry mob, some say sent by Cyril, attacked and murdered her. They beat her with stones, cut her with clam shells, and finally burned her body.

The death of Hypatia, and the loss of the world's largest collection of scientific and mathematic writings, were factors that contributed to the halt of scientific advances in the West halt for nearly a thousand years.

"Astronomy was never just a man's field," Ms. Armstrong says. "Women have always studied the night sky."

Her book Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars, which has received critical praise internationally, examines the remarkable accomplishments of 21 women who struggled with society's narrow ideas on the appropriate roles for women and the incredible challenges each met in her own way.

She describes the stories of some of the fascinating women who dared to look toward the stars-from the earliest known woman astronomers, to Hypatia of Alexandria, to Astronaut Sally Ride and all the fascinating, brave women in between.


Related Links
Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars
Astronomy News from

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

McDonald Observatory Launches Dark Skies Initiative
Austin TX (SPX) Jun 23, 2010
The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory is kicking off a campaign to promote awareness of the causes, effects, and solutions to light pollution - stray light shone into the sky where it's wasted, rather than down on the ground where it's useful. The Observatory will be promoting dark skies awareness through its nationally syndicated StarDate radio program, its Spanish-langua ... read more

Japan experts call for robot expedition to moon

GRAIL Spacecraft Takes Shape

Caltech Team Finds Evidence Of Water In Moon Minerals

Water On The Moon Is Widespread

Rocks On Mars May Provide Link To Evidence Of Living Organisms Roughly 4 Billion Years Ago

Martian Dust Devil Whirls Into Opportunity's View

DLR Investigates The Existence Of Liquid Salt Solutions On Mars

Curiosity Rover Grows By Leaps And Bounds

Planetary Society Urges Debate On NASA Authorization Bill

Astronomer: Manned missions less likely

Panel considers cost of space tourism

2010 Space Elevator Conference

China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot

China Sends Research Satellite Into Space

China eyes Argentina for space antenna

Seven More For Shenzhou

ISS Commander Responds To Love Letter From Earth

Space walk successful despite lost parts

cosmonauts Complete First Expedition 24 Spacewalk

Ball Aerospace And LockMart Demo New Docking System Technology

Sea Launch Signs Agreement With EchoStar

Ariane 5 Is Ready For Its Payload Integration

NASA Tests Launch Abort System At Supersonic Speeds

Sea Launch Signs Launch Agreement With AsiaSat

Planets In Unusually Intimate Dance Around Dying Star

Detector Technology Could Help NASA Find Earth-Like Exoplanets

NASA Finds Super-Hot Planet With Unique Comet-Like Tail

Recipes For Renegade Planets

Smartphones power up profit for SK Telecom

YouTube ups video limit to 15 minutes

Obama bored with his BlackBerry

Amazon introducing two new Kindles: report

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement