Astronomy Fundamentals

History of Astronomy

Who is thought to have invented the astrolabe?

The ancient Greek mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria (370–415 C.E.) is thought to be the first woman in western civilization to teach and study highly advanced mathematics. During her lifetime, the Museum of Alexandria was a great learning institution with a number of schools, public auditoriums, and what was then the world’s greatest library. Hypatia’s father, Theon of Alexandria, was the last recorded member of the Museum.

Hypatia was a teacher at one of the Museum’s schools, called the Neoplatonic School of Philosophy, and became the school’s director in 400 C.E. She was famous for her lively lectures and her many books and articles on mathematics, philosophy, and other subjects. Although very few written records remain, and much information is missing about her life overall, the records suggest that Hypatia invented or helped to invent the astrolabe.


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