Conon of Samos

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Conon of Samos (Greek : Κόνων ὁ Σάμιος, Konōn ho Samios; c. 280 – c. 220 BCE) was a Greek astronomer and mathematician. He is primarily remembered for naming the constellation Coma Berenices.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

Coma Berenices constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere

Coma Berenices is an ancient asterism in the northern sky which has been defined as one of the 88 modern constellations. It is located in the fourth galactic quadrant, between Leo and Boötes, and is visible in both hemispheres. Its name means "Berenice's Hair" in Latin and refers to Queen Berenice II of Egypt, who sacrificed her long hair as a votive offering. It was introduced to Western astronomy during the third century BC by Conon of Samos and was further corroborated as a constellation by Gerardus Mercator and Tycho Brahe. Coma Berenices is the only modern constellation named for a historic person.


Life and work

Conon was born on Samos, Ionia, and possibly died in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt, where he was court astronomer to Ptolemy III Euergetes. He named the constellation Coma Berenices ("Berenice's Hair") after Ptolemy's wife Berenice II. She sacrificed her hair in exchange for her husband's safe return from the Third Syrian War, which began in 246 BCE. When the lock of hair disappeared, Conon explained that the goddess had shown her favor by placing it in the sky. Not all Greek astronomers accepted the designation. In Ptolemy's Almagest , Coma Berenices is not listed as a distinct constellation. However, Ptolemy does attribute several seasonal indications ( parapegma ) to Conon. Conon was a friend of the mathematician Archimedes whom he probably met in Alexandria.

Ionia region in Turkey

Ionia was an ancient region on the central part of the western coast of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements. Never a unified state, it was named after the Ionian tribe who, in the Archaic Period, settled mainly the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea. Ionian states were identified by tradition and by their use of Eastern Greek.

Alexandria Metropolis in Egypt

Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.

Ptolemy III Euergetes Egyptian pharaoh

Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt from 246 to 222 BC.

Pappus states that the spiral of Archimedes was discovered by Conon. Apollonius of Perga reported that Conon worked on conic sections, and his work became the basis for Apollonius' fourth book of the Conics. Apollonius further reports that Conon sent some of his work to Thrasydaeus, but that it was incorrect. Since this work has not survived it is impossible to assess the accuracy of Apollonius' comment.

Pappus of Alexandria Greek mathematician of Antiquity

Pappus of Alexandria was one of the last great Greek mathematicians of Antiquity, known for his Synagoge (Συναγωγή) or Collection, and for Pappus's hexagon theorem in projective geometry. Nothing is known of his life, other than, that he had a son named Hermodorus, and was a teacher in Alexandria.

Apollonius of Perga Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer noted for his writings on conic sections

Apollonius of Perga was a Greek geometer and astronomer known for his theories on the topic of conic sections. Beginning from the theories of Euclid and Archimedes on the topic, he brought them to the state they were in just before the invention of analytic geometry. His definitions of the terms ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola are the ones in use today.

In astronomy, Conon wrote in seven books his De astrologia, including observations on solar eclipses. Ptolemy further attributes seventeen "signs of the seasons" to Conon, although this may not have been given in De astrologia. Seneca writes that "Conon was a careful observer" and that he "recorded solar eclipses observed by the Egyptians", [1] although the accuracy of this statement is doubted. The Roman Catullus writes that Conon "discerned all the lights of the vast universe, and disclosed the risings and settings of the stars, how the fiery brightness of the sun is darkened, and how the stars retreat at fixed times." [2]

Catullus Latin poet

Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather than classical heroes. His surviving works are still read widely and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.

See also

Citations and footnotes

  1. Otto E. Neugebauer (1975)
  2. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas (1970-1990)

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