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Kirch, Maria Margarethe Winkelmann

1. Dates
Born: Panitsch, 25 Feb 1670
Died: Berlin, 29 Dec 1720
Dateinfo: --
Lifespan: 50
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
Her father was a Protestant minister.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Panitsch, near Leipzig, Germany
Career: various cities in Germany; see the entry for Kirch, Gottfried.
Death: Berlin, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: No University
She is thought to have become interested in astromony through Christoph Arnold of Sommerfeld, the so-called 'astronomical peasant', a self-taught astronomer who so impressed the council of Leipzig that they granted him a sum of money and lifelong freedom from taxes.
Her husband, Gottfried, undoubtedly taught her as well.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran (Lutheran)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy
She discovered the comet of 1702.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Housewife (List As Mis.)
Secondary: Patronage
In 1692, she married the astronomer Gottfried Kirch. She worked with him regularly, making observations and especially doing calculations.
After Gottfried's death (1710), she continued to publish on her own.
1712, she began to work in Baron von Krosigk's observatory writing up some of her observations.
1714, upon the Baron's death she moved to Leipzig.
1716, when he son, Christoph, became astronomer of the Berlin Academy, she joined him there and continued to calculate calendars until her death.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, Scientist
After the death of her husband, she was allowed to stay on in the house that had been provided for the family, and she worked at the calendar monopoly.
She worked in Baron von Krosigk's observatory (1712-1714).
She moved to Danzig at the invitation of the Hevelius family and she stayed in their house.
Peter the Great evidently wanted her to come to Russia, but she joined her son in Berlin instead.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
She was linked through her husband and son to the Berlin Academy, but, as a woman, she was not a member.
  1. Dietrich Wattenberg, Neue deutsche Biographie 11, 364b-5a.
  2. Guenther, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie 15, 788.
  3. P. Aufgebauer, "Die Astronomenfamilie Kirch," Die Sterne, 47 (1971), 241-7.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J.E. Bode, Astronomisches Jahrbuck für das Jahr 1816, (Berlin, 1813), pp. 111, 113f. H. Ludendorff, "Zur Frühgeschichte der Astronomie in Berlin," Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaft, Vorträge und Schriften, 9 (1942).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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