Johannes Kepler was a famous German astronomer, mathematician and astrologer.
Childhood and early years
Johannes Kepler was born on December 27, 1571 in the German land of Stuttgart in the family of Heinrich Kepler and Katarina Guldenmann. It was believed that the Kelper were rich, however, at the time of the birth of the boy, wealth in the family was significantly diminished. Heinrich Kepler earned his living by trade. When Johann was 5 years old, the father leaves the family. The boy’s mother, Katharina Guldenmann, was an herbalist and healer, and later, in order to feed herself and the child, she even made attempts to engage in witchcraft. According to rumors, Kepler was a boy with a painful, frail body and a weak mind.
However, from an early age he showed interest in mathematics, often hitting others with his abilities for this science. As a child, Kepler met astronomy, and he will carry the love of this science through his whole life. Occasionally, he, along with his family, observes eclipses and the appearance of comets, however, poor eyesight and smallpoxed hands do not allow him to seriously engage in astronomical observations.
In 1589, after graduating from the middle and Latin schools, Kepler entered the Tübingen Theological Seminary at the University of Tübingen. It is here that he first manifests himself as a competent mathematician and skilled astrologer. In the seminary he also studies philosophy and theology under the leadership of the outstanding personalities of his time – Vitus Mueller and Jacob Heerbrand. At Tübingen University Kepler gets acquainted with the planetary systems of Copernicus and Ptolemy. Bending to the Copernican system, Kepler assumes the Sun as the main source of the driving force in the universe. After graduating from university, he dreams of getting a public post, but after the offer to become a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the Protestant school of Graz, he immediately renounces his political ambitions. The post of Professor Kepler took in 1594, when he was only 23 years old.
During teaching in the Protestant school, Kepler, in his own words, “was a vision” of the cosmic plan of the structure of the universe. In defense of his Copernican views, Kepler represents the periodic connection of the planets, Saturn and Jupiter, in the zodiac. He also directs his efforts to determine the relationship between the distances of the planets from the Sun and the dimensions of regular polyhedra, claiming that he discovered the geometry of the universe.
Most of Kepler’s theories based on Copernicus’s system stemmed from his belief in the relationship between scientific and theological views of the universe. As a result of this approach, in 1596 the scientist wrote his first, and perhaps the most controversial of his works on astronomy “The Mystery of the Universe.” By this work, he conquers the reputation of a skilful astronomer. In the future, in his work, Kepler will make only small amendments, and will accept it as the basis for a number of his future works. The second edition of the “Mystery” will appear in 1621, with a number of amendments and additions from the author.
The publication increases the ambitions of the scientist, and he decides to expand the field of his activities. It is adopted for four more scientific works: the immutability of the universe, the influence of heaven on the Earth, the movements of the planets and the physical nature of stellar bodies. His work and assumptions he sends to many astronomers whose views he supports, and whose works serve as an example for him, in order to obtain their approval. One of these letters turns into friendship with Tycho Brahe, with whom... Kepler will discuss many questions about astronomical and celestial phenomena.
And at this time in the Protestant school of Graz a religious conflict is brewing, which jeopardizes his further teaching at school, and so he leaves the school and joins the astronomical works of Tycho. January 1, 1600 Kepler leaves Graz and goes to work for Tycho. The result of their joint work will be the outstanding works “Astronomy from the point of view of optics”, “Rudolph tables” and “Prussian tables.” Rudolph and Prussian tables were presented to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Rudolf II. But in 1601 Quietly suddenly dies, and Copernicus is appointed by the imperial mathematician, who is responsible for completing the work begun by Tycho. Under the emperor, Kepler rose to the chief astrological adviser. He helped the ruler and during the political turmoil, while not forgetting his work on astronomy. In 1610, Kepler began working with Galileo Galilei, and even published his own telescopic observations of the satellites of various planets. In 1611, Kepler constructed a telescope for astronomical observations of his own invention, which he would call a Kepler telescope.
In 1604, a scientist observes a new bright evening star in the starry sky, and, not believing his eyes, notices the nebula around her. Such a supernova can be observed only once in 800 years! It is believed that such a star appeared in the sky at the birth of Christ and at the beginning of the reign of Charlemagne. After such a unique spectacle, Kepler verifies the astronomical properties of the star and even begins studying the celestial spheres. His calculations of parallax in astronomy bring him to the forefront of this science and strengthen his reputation.
For his life, Kepler had to endure many emotional upheavals. On April 27, 1597, he married Barbara Müller, who by that time had twice a widow who already had a young daughter, Gemma. In the first year of married life the Keplers have two daughters.
Both girls die in infancy. In subsequent years, the family will have three more children. However, Barbara’s health deteriorated, and in 1612 she died.
October 30, 1613 Kepler married again. After reviewing the eleven games, he opts for the 24-year-old Suzanne Reuttingen. The first three children, born of this union, die in infancy. Apparently, the second marriage was happier than the first. To top off family disasters, Kepler’s mother is accused of practicing witchcraft and imprisoned for fourteen months. According to eyewitnesses, during the whole process the son did not leave his mother.
Death and heritage
Kepler died just before he had to watch the passage of Mercury and Venus, which he expected with great impatience. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensburg, Germany, after a short illness. For many years Kepler’s laws were skeptical. However, after some time, the scientists undertook to test Kepler’s theories, and, gradually, began to agree with his discoveries. “Reduction of Copernican Astronomy” – the main conductor of Kepler’s ideas – for many years served as the guidance of astronomers. Well-known scientists – like Newton, for example – built their theories on Kepler’s works.
Known Kepler also with his philosophical and mathematical works. A number of eminent composers dedicated to Kepler musical compositions and operas, “Peace Harmony” among them.
In 2009, in memory of Kepler’s contribution to the development of astronomy, NASA’s management proclaimed the Kepler mission.
The main works
- “New astronomy” “Astronomy from the point of view of optics” “The mystery of the universe” “Dream” “New Year’s gift, or About hexagonal snowflakes” “Kepler’s guesses” “Law of continuity” “Kepler’s laws of planetary motion” “Reduction of Copernican astronomy” “Harmony of the world” “Rudolph Tables”