Johannes Kepler (Weil der Stadt, Baden-Wutemberg, Germany, 27 December 1571 – Regensburg, Germany, 15 November 1630).
Scientist, Astronomer, Physicist and Mathematician of German origin, recognized for having described the movement of the planets in their orbit around the sun, detailed in what science has since known as the Three Laws of Kepler, which began to a true scientific revolution, which is why he is also regarded as one of the most influential scientists in history.
Johannes Kepler was born on 27 December 1571 in Weil der Stadt, Baden-Wutemberg, Germany, into a Lutheran family. His father Heinrich Kepler served in the Duke of Wutemberg’s troops, absenting for great periods.
His mother, Katherina Guldenmann ran an inn and was a healer in Weil der Stadt. Kepler had three other siblings: Margarette, Christopher and Heinrich. In 1577, he moved to Leonberg, where he began his studies at a Latin school. However, it was his parents who aroused his interest in astronomical phenomena.
In 1577, when he was only five years old, his mother took him to a clear and tall place, to make him see a comet. For his part, his father showed him a moon eclipse when he was nine years old. Facts Kepler would remember all his life.
In 1584, a year after finishing school, Kepler entered the Protestant seminary in Adelberg. Two years later, in 1586, he began his studies at the Higher Seminary, located in Maulbronn.
Three years later, he made his way to the University of Tubingen, where he studied Rhetoric, Greek, Hebrew, Dialectic, Ethics, Astronomy, Physics, as well as Human Sciences and Theology. That same year, his father disappeared forever in the war.
Early in Astronomy
In 1591, Kepler earned his master’s degree, although he continued his university studies. It was at this time that his teacher Michael Maestlin taught Kepler the theories of Copernicus, about the heliocentric character of the Universe, which were only taught to the brightest students, while the others continued to learn the laws of Ptolemy.
From then on Kepler became a fervent follower of Copernicus. Since then he has focused his studies on trying to understand the laws under which the planets move by their transit around the sun, believing in a principle that they should respond to the laws of harmony, described by Pythagoras.
Kepler promulgated his first theory, known as the Theory of Harmony of the Spheres of Celestes, where he proposed a model of universe made up of perfect polyhedra, within which there were spheres, which moved and placed them in total harmony with each other. Kepler, as a man of great faith in God, believed that as God was perfect, his creation should be in his image and likeness.
In 1594 he left his studies in theology, in order to assume a professorship in Mathematics at the Protestant school of Graz. In 1597 he wrote his first book, entitled The Cosmic Mystery. In 1597 he married, in an arranged marriage, Barbara Muller, with whom he had five children.
In 1600 he was forced to flee to Prague, following the decree of Archduke Ferdinand, who forbade the Protestant religion in Austria.
It was in Prague that Kepler met Tycho Brahe, who possessed the best data on the behavior and transit of the planets, and with whom he would work all the following year, and even replaced after his death, in his position as mathematician of the emperor Rodolfo II, for whom he also went on to provide astrologer services.
In 1602, Kepler finally gained access to the data Tycho had devoted himself to collecting, realizing that, to his frustration, the planets did not seem to move in perfect circles, but in elliptical forms.
Faced with the evidence, he had no choice but to accept reality, although he never ceased to wonder why God would choose the ellipse and not the perfect and simple circle as the line to follow for the planets.
Three hundred years later, Albert Einstein was able to demonstrate in his Theory of Relativity that Kepler’s intuition was right, and that the planets moved in paths that emulated the simplest and simplest geometric figure: the straight line.
In 1609, in his work Astronimia Nova, he enacted his three laws, known to the scientific world as the Three Laws of Kepler, in which he stated that:
1) The planets have elliptical movements around the Sun (First Law) being in one of the two spotlights containing this geometric figure, traced by the planet in its transit.
2) The areas covered by the radii of the planets are proportional to the amount of time spent by these celestial bodies to travel the perimeter of those areas (Second Law).
3) The square of the period of the planet’s orbit is proportional to the cube of the average distance from this celestial body to the Sun (Third Law, also known as harmonic law, which took some years to discover). With this theory, Kepler was able to lay the groundwork that would allow other scientists to understand and predict the transits of all planets and stars.
As for his personal life, his wife and two of his children died in 1612. The following year he married Susanne Reuttinger, with whom he had seven children, of whom only four survived.
In 1621, her mother died, just six months after achieving the freedom, after six years in prison, to which she was subjected under the charge of witchcraft. In 1627 he published his Tabulae Rudolphine, which was used for at least the next century to calculate the positions of the planets.
Finally, Kepler died, at the age of fifty-eight, on 15 November 1630, in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. His work and documents currently rest at the Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Image source: wisegeek.com
July 31, 2019