Interview Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler

Autobiography of Johannes Kepler

My Early Years

Born on the 27th of December, 1571, in Weil der Stadt, in the Holy Roman Empire, to Heinrich Kepler, a mercenary, and Katharina Guldenmann, an innkeeper’s daughter, my life began in a turbulent era of religious conflict. Beset by illnesses from an early age, my physical frailties never deterred me from embarking upon a path that would make me a household name in the annals of science.

Finding My Path

Encouraged by my mother’s fervent interest in astrology and my father’s adventurous spirit, I took an early liking to mathematics and the heavens. I studied in Maulbronn seminary and was later granted a scholarship to the University of Tübingen to study theology, but it was there I discovered my true calling. Michael Maestlin, the astronomer and mathematician, took me under his wing. From him, I learned the tenets of the Copernican system, which defied Ptolemaic geocentrism and proclaimed that the Earth revolved around the Sun. It was here my life’s direction was forever altered.

The Mysterium Cosmographicum

In 1596, I published Mysterium Cosmographicum (The Cosmographic Mystery), which was my first major work in astronomy. In it, I proposed a model of the universe where the distances of the six known planets from the Sun were determined by six inscribed and circumscribed spheres around five regular solids. Despite the inaccuracies, this model was a manifestation of my unwavering belief that God had created an orderly universe, one that could be understood through the language of mathematics and geometry. This work brought me recognition and a position as an assistant to Tycho Brahe, the imperial mathematician.

Working With Tycho Brahe

In 1600, I moved to Prague to work with the great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, an association that would prove to be pivotal. Upon his death the following year, I succeeded him as the imperial mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II. With access to Tycho’s detailed astronomical observations, I endeavored to refine the Copernican system.

My Laws of Planetary Motion

I published the Astronomia Nova (A New Astronomy) in 1609, where I detailed my first two laws of planetary motion, based on meticulous examination of Mars’s orbit. The first law stated that planets move around the Sun in elliptical orbits, not circles as previously believed. The second law, the area law, explained that a line connecting a planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

My third law, the harmonic law, was presented later in 1619 in my work Harmonices Mundi (The Harmony of the World). This law detailed the relationship between the time a planet takes to orbit the Sun and its average distance from the Sun. It was through this work I concluded that there was a mathematical harmony in the heavens, an idea which gave me immense joy.

Personal Trials and Triumphs

My life was not without its tribulations. I faced financial difficulties, family tragedies, and even the accusation and trial of my mother for witchcraft. I defended her successfully in court, but these trials took their toll.

Nonetheless, my later years brought me new opportunities. In 1627, I published Tabulae Rudolphinae (Rudolphine Tables), dedicated to my late patron, Rudolf II. This table of planetary motion, based on Tycho’s observations and my own laws of planetary motion, was the most accurate of its time.

My Legacy

I died on November 15, 1630, but my legacy lives on in the world of science. I was not just the ‘Astronomer of Ellipses’ but also a trailblazer in the field of optics, and an ardent believer in the unity of the natural world. My laws paved the way for Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. My life serves as a testament that despite hardships, one’s passion can lead to profound discoveries that echo through the ages.

As I gaze down from the heavens, I see how my work has influenced not just astronomy but the broader strokes of human understanding of our place in the cosmos. I can’t help but smile, knowing I was right – the language of the universe, indeed, is written in the mathematics of the heavens.

Johannes Kepler Books and Audio Books on Amazon.

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