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Mathematical Treasure: Peurbach's New Theory of the Planets

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Georg Peurbach (1423-1461) was an Austrian mathematician and astronomer. He travelled and lectured widely across Europe and taught at the Italian universities in Padua and Ferrara. While teaching as a professor at the University of Vienna, Peurbach had Regiomontanus (Johann Müller) as a student. In his Novae Theoricae Planetarum (New Theory of the Planets), he explained and popularized Ptolemy’s epicyclic theory of planetary motion. The following collection of plates, from a 16th-century edition, includes both diagrams and volvelles with movable parts illustrating mathematical models from this work.

The images above were obtained through the kind cooperation of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Late and Early Renaissance Manuscripts, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Lawrence Schoenberg, a successful businessman and collector of early scientific manuscripts, donated his collection to the University. The item shown here is fully digitized and may be consulted and copied in its entirety with due credit provided, including its reference number, LJS 64.

Index to Mathematical Treasures


Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Peurbach's New Theory of the Planets," Convergence (February 2019)