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Aglaonike: first woman astronomer in ancient Greece

 

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Did you know Aglaonike (Gr. Ἀγλαονίκη, Aglaonikē; fl. 2nd century BC), also known as Aganice of Thessaly, is cited as the first female astronomer in ancient Greece? She is mentioned in the writings of Plutarch and Apollonius of Rhodes as the daughter of Hegetor of Thessaly. So good was she at predicting the cycles of the moon that many thought her a sorceress because she could make the moon disappear from the sky.  Because the male scientific establishment was a bit abashed by her acute prowess to predict the time and general area where a lunar eclipse would occur, they labeled her a witch.  She raised a school of female astrologers, also regarded as witches, known as the “witches of Thessaly” who were active from the 1st to 3rd centuries BCE. There is even an ancient Greek proverb attributing to her powers of celestial prophecy: “Yes, as the moon obeys Aglaonike.”

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