Kepler eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 53 pages of information about Kepler.
Soon afterwards he purchased an edition of Ptolemy in order to read up the subject of astronomy, to which, and to mathematics, he devoted most of the remainder of his three years’ course at Copenhagen.  His uncle next sent him to Leipzig to study law, but he managed to continue his astronomical researches.  He obtained the Alphonsine and the new Prutenic Tables, but soon found that the latter, though more accurate than the former, failed to represent the true positions of the planets, and grasped the fact that continuous observation was essential in order to determine the true motions.  He began by observing a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in August, 1563, and found the Prutenic Tables several days in error, and the Alphonsine a whole month.  He provided himself with a cross-staff for determining the angular distance between stars or other objects, and, finding the divisions of the scale inaccurate, constructed a table of corrections, an improvement that seems to have been a decided innovation, the previous practice having been to use the best available instrument and ignore its errors.  About this time war broke out between Denmark and Sweden, and Tycho returned to his uncle, who was vice-admiral and attached to the king’s suite.  The uncle died in the following month, and early in the next year Tycho went abroad again, this time to Wittenberg.  After five months, however, an outbreak of plague drove him away, and he matriculated at Rostock, where he found little astronomy but a good deal of astrology.  While there he fought a duel in the dark and lost part of his nose, which he replaced by a composition of gold and silver.  He carried on regular observations with his cross-staff and persevered with his astronomical studies in spite of the objections and want of sympathy of his fellow-countrymen.  The King of Denmark, however, having a higher opinion of the value of science, promised Tycho the first canonry that should fall vacant in the cathedral chapter of Roskilde, so that he might be assured of an income while devoting himself to financially unproductive work.  In 1568 Tycho left Rostock, and matriculated at Basle, but soon moved on to Augsburg, where he found more enthusiasm for astronomy, and induced one of his new friends to order the construction of a large 19-foot quadrant of heavy oak beams.  This was the first of the series of great instruments associated with Tycho’s name, and it remained in use for five years, being destroyed by a great storm in 1574.  Tycho meanwhile had left Augsburg in 1570 and returned to live with his father, now governor of Helsingborg Castle, until the latter’s death in the following year.  Tycho then joined his mother’s brother, Steen Bille, the only one of his relatives who showed any sympathy with his desire for a scientific career.

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Kepler from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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