Catherina Elisabetha (nee Koopman) Hevelius was born in Danzig (modern Gdańsk, Poland) on January 17, 1647.

Extremely well educated for a woman of the era, she became the wife and assistant of the renowned German/Polish astronomer and instrument maker Johannes Hevelius, and is considered to be one of the earliest recognised female astronomers.

This image shows her with Johannes carrying out observations of the heavens with a brass sextant from their observatory in Danzig.

Following the death of her husband in 1687, Catherina Elisabetha was responsible for editing many of his unpublished writings, including Stellarum Fixarum (1687); Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia(1690); and Prodromus Astronomiae (1690). It can be safely assumed that, as well as seeing these works through to publication, she had played a key role in the compilation and recording of their contents during the long hours she spent observing the heavens.

[credit: Society for the History of Astronomy]

More about Johannes and Elisabetha

Mona Evans
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