Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kepler, Johann (1571–1630)

Famous German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. He was born on December 27, 1571, at Weil in Württemberg and educated at a monastic school at Maulbrunn. He attended the University of Tübingen, where he studied philosophy, mathematics, theology, and astronomy. In 1593 he became professor of mathematics and morals at Gratz in Styria, where he also continued his astrological studies. He had an unhappy home life and was somewhat persecuted for his doctrines.

The famous Rudolphine tables, which he prepared with the astronomer Tycho de Brahe, were printed in 1626.

Some of Kepler’s writings were influenced by occult and mystical concepts. In his work De Harmonice Mundi (1619) he expounded a system of celestial harmonies. His book Somnium (1634) was an early speculation about life on the moon. A discussion of Kepler’s concept of archetypes appears in ‘‘The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler’’ in the book The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche, by C. G. Jung and W. Pauli (1955).

The laws of the courses of the planets, deduced by Kepler from observations made by Tycho, and known as ‘‘the three laws of Kepler,’’ became the foundation of Newton’s discoveries, as well as of the whole modern theory of the planets. His services in the cause of astronomy place him high among the distinguished people of science, and in 1808 a monument was erected to his memory at Ratisbon. Kepler’s most important work is his Astronomia nova, seu Physica Coelestis tradita Commentariis de Motibus Stellae Martis (1609), which is still regarded as a classic by astronomers.

Kepler died November 15, 1630, at Ratisbon.

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