Johannes Kepler Essay

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Johannes Kepler

The Harmonies of the World

“By the study of the orbit of Mars, we must either arrive at the secrets of astronomy or forever remain in ignorance of them.”

Johannes Kepler


     Kepler, Johannes (1571-1630) who was a German astronomer and natural philosopher is noted for coming up with and verifying the three laws of planetary motion. These laws are now known as Kepler's laws of Planetary Motion. Johanne was born on December 27, 1571.


     Johanne was born in Weil der Stadt in Swabia and moved to nearby Leonberg with his parents in 1576. His father was a mercenary soldier and his mother was the daughter of an innkeeper. He was their
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He needed someone to look after the children. Kepler's new wife, Susanna, had a “crash course” in Kepler's character. A dedicatory letter to the resultant book explains that at the wedding celebrations he noticed that the barrels of wine barrels were estimated by means of a rod slipped in diagonally through a hole, and he began to wonder how that could work.

     The result was a study of the volumes of solids of revolution (New Stereometry of wine barrels, Nova stereometria doliorum, Linz, 1615) in which Kepler, basing himself on the work of Archimedes, used a resolution into 'indivisibles'. This method was later developed by Bonaventura Cavalieri (c. 1598 - 1547) and is part of the ancestry of the infinitesima.

Development of Laws

     He was influenced by a mathematics professor, Michael Maestlin, an advocate of the heliocentric theory of planetary motion first developed by Nicolaus Copernicus. Kepler accepted the Copernican Theory immediately. He believed that the simplicity of Copernican planetary ordering must have been God's plan.

     In 1594, when Kepler left Tübingen for Graz, Austria, he worked out a complex geometric hypothesis to account for distances between the planetary orbits. Orbits that he mistakenly assumed were circular. (Kepler later found that planetary orbits are elliptic; nevertheless, these preliminary calculations agreed with observations to within 5 percent.)

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