Interesting Facts about Johannes Kepler

February 17, 2014
Johannes Kepler was born on 27 December 1571. He was a famous German astronomer and mathematician who played a significant role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

He contributed to the revolution by providing numerous scientific breakthroughs which included the famous laws of planetary motion.

The three laws of planetary motion by Kepler are

(1) The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun as the focus.

(2) A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.

(3) The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.

Kepler was interested in astronomy from an early age. His interest was further piqued when he witnessed a comet in 1577 and a lunar eclipse in 1580.

He attended the University of Tubingen where he studied philosophy.

He excelled in mathematics. It helped him develop his remarkable astronomy skills.

He created horoscopes for his fellow students.

Kepler achieved much of his work around the same time as another famous astronomer, Galileo Galilei. The two often had disagreeing opinions, but their concurrent work helped spur physics, philosophy and astronomy forward to a new level of understanding.

His work on planetary motion helped Isaac Newton later devise his own theory of universal gravitation. Some of Kepler's famous work includes Mysterium cosmographicum (The Sacred Mystery of the Cosmos - 1596), Astronomia nova (New Astronomy - 1609), Harmonice Mundi (Harmony of the Worlds - 1619) and Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae (Epitome of Copernican Astronomy - published between 1618 and 1621).

He died on 15 November 1630.

NASA honoured Kepler by naming a mission after him launched on 6 March 2009. The Kepler Mission involves a high-tech space telescope which will search for Earth-like planets.

Famous Johannes Kepler quotes

"Nature uses as little as possible of anything."

"I used to measure the heavens, now I measure the shadows of Earth."

"Geometry has two great treasures; one is the Theorem of Pythagoras; the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first, we may compare to a measure of gold; the second, we may name a precious jewel."

"I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses."

Sources: Sciencekids and Wikipedia