Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Georg von Peurbach

In 1446, began his studies at the University of Vienna. After 1448, went on a long journey through Germany, France, and Italy, lecturing in several cities. In Italy, he became acquainted with a number of cultural figures of his day, such as Giovanni Bianchini (15th C.) in Ferrara and Nicola Cusano (c. 1400-1464) in Rome. On his return home, he was elected professor at the University of Vienna in 1453. There, he began to study the astronomical work of Claudius Ptolemy (2nd C.), in collaboration with his student Johann Müller (known as Regiomontanus, 1436-1476). In 1454, Peurbach finished writing Theoricae novae planetarum, published only in 1474 by Regiomontanus in Nuremberg and later reprinted and translated several times. The work gave an elementary description of the geocentric astronomy of the Almagest mediated by the elaborate cosmological structure with crystal spheres devised by Islamic astronomers of the 13th and 14th centuries. After 1457, Peurbach became astrologer to Emperor Frederick III (1415-1493). In c. 1459, he finished the Tabulae eclipsium - not printed until 1514 - in which he tabulated the movements of the Sun and Moon to allow accurate forecasts of their eclipses. In 1460, he met Cardinal Bessarione (1403-1472), who was visiting Vienna as the Papal Legate. Bessarione's knowledge of Greek made Peurbach eager to examine original Greek manuscripts, and Bessarione invited Peurbach to accompany him on a trip to Italy. Peurbach accepted and was also planning to make a new translation of Ptolemy's Almagest. Unfortunately his premature death prevented him from carrying out either plan. It was Regiomontanus who went with Bessarione to Italy and completed the Epytoma in Almagestum Ptolemei, first printed in Venice in 1496.