It’s noteworthy that Carl Sagan called Johannes Kepler the “first astrophysicist and the last scientific astrologer.” Kepler’s groundbreaking work and theories influenced scientific investigation of the cosmos, astronomical astrology, meteorology, mathematics and Christian religion.
He was a tireless thinker, writer and historian of science in his day and age. His life spanned the intersection of the 1500s and the 1600s. His work triggered new ways of viewing our place in the universe. While he changed the traditions of astronomy into a branch of physics he still clung to religious explanations of creation. He was unlike today’s creationists in that Kepler did not feel that faith was a sufficient explanation for life on earth. Kepler believed that a creator’s purpose could hypothetically be found through the use of reason.
Early on, Kepler wrote two versions of his work “Mysterium Cosmographicum” (Cosmographic Mystery). His writings were the first defense of Copernican astronomical theory. While teaching about the periodic conjuction between Saturn and Jupiter, he postulated that there might be a geometrical foundation of the universe. The scientist believed he had revealed God’s plan for the universe much as Copernicus had stated. What Kepler had accomplished was the simplification of Copernican hypotheses.
In February of 1600, Johaness Kepler was introduced to the imperial mathematician to Rudolph II, Tycho Brahe. A formal working arrangement was agreed upon between Kepler and Brahe. Before the working arrangement commenced, Kepler formulated a new theory of lunar motion. He had hoped to become a part of Archduke Ferdinand’s court as Ferdinand’s mathematician. Kepler didn’t earn him the job, but he did find a new method to calculate lunar eclipses.
Brahe died unexpectedly in October of 1601, so Kepler was appointed to finish Brahe’s major works. As the court mathematician, Kepler was expected to give astrological advice to the emperor. Although Kepler had a dim view of astrologers’ attempts of using the stars to predict the future, he carefully substituted common sense and logic into his horoscopes. Emperor Rudolph relied upon the predictions during times of crisis. The ruler also insisted on updates regarding Kepler’s work in physical astronomy.
This early work paved the way for more complex theories and several scholarly papers. Many of his ideas remain important in the fields of astronomy and natural earth sciences. Kepler’s most noteworthy findings were expressed in his laws of motion. The advancement of astronomy was accelerated by Kepler’s views.
Although later studies flatly discredited Kepler’s highly dated, romantic arguments based upon metaphysics and religion, Kepler was thought to be the first of a long line of scientific geniuses. Experts, today, value Kepler’s theories and not his beliefs at the core of science’s transformation into the modern method of discovery that we now utilize.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that Johannes Kepler was born on this day in 1571, in the Holy Roman Empire city of Weil der Stadt, near present day Stuttgart, Germany.