Professor Sinistra was a professor of Astronomy at Hogwarts during the 1990s (JKR, CS11, GF12, GF23, OP12, OP13, OP14).
Sinistra helped carry Justin Finch-Fletchley‘s Petrified body to the hospital wing in 1992 (CS11). She danced a two-step with Moody at the Yule Ball in 1994 (GF23). The next year she, like the other teachers of the fifth year students, piled on the homework as OWL exams loomed (OP12, OP13, OP14).
Sinistra's first name is given as both Aurora and Aurelia in canon.
Aurelia = from L. aureus meaning "golden"
Aurora = L. goddess of the dawn
"sinistra" = Latin for "with the left hand." For Ancient Greeks and Romans the left side symbolized unfavorable omens and perverseness (Lewis & Short).
"Sinistra" = the name of a magnitude 3.5 star in the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Handler (Fixed Stars).
Professor Sinistra's first name 'Aurora' is given in an early planning draft for Prisoner of Azkaban available on JKR's website. On the reverse side of that same manuscript, on her website, Rowling referred to Sinistra as "Aurelia." Since these two first names appear on the same manuscript, we have no way of verifying which one is correct.
For what it's worth, the name 'Aurelia' appears on the back side of the page, which means that Rowling wrote it after writing 'Aurora.'
The question of Sinistra's gender came up during the translation of Order of the Phoenix into Portuguese. The translation team contacted the Lexicon for an answer to the question, but I couldn't answer for sure, since it never says one way or the other in the books (although many did point out that Sinistra danced with Moody at the Yule Ball, which strongly implied that the professor was female). I suggested that they contact Rowling, which they did. Rowling's reps responded that Sinistra was in fact a woman.
Tags: astronomy education planet professors stars teachers teaching