Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Apollonius of Myndos

Reference work entry

BornMyndos (Gümüşlük, Turkey), 140 ± 10 BCE

Died90 ± 10 BCE

Apollonius was the earliest known astronomer to argue that comets were orbiting bodies like the planets (within a geocentric framework). His place of origin is known, but his dates are an estimate, and nothing certain is known of his life.

Apollonius is mentioned by only one extant author, Seneca, in his Natural Questions. In addition to Apollonius’s place of origin, Seneca records that Apollonius studied with the “Chaldeans,” i.e., Babylonian astrologers. Those two facts suggest that Apollonius came after  Hipparchus, consistent with his claim that a comet is a “proper star, just like the sun or moon” (i.e., as exemplary bodies whose motions were believed to be well-understood due to Hipparchus).

If, as some scholars have suggested, Seneca is relying on  Poseidoniusfor his account, then Apollonius precedes Poseidonius. That order is very likely in any case, since Poseidonius’s theory of comets held that they were...

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Selected References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA