Kepler eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 62 pages of information about Kepler.

In 1624 he went to Vienna, and managed to extract from the Treasury 6000 florins on account of expenses connected with the Tables, but, instead of a further grant, was given letters to the States of Swabia, which owed money to the Imperial treasury.  Some of this he succeeded in collecting, but the Tables were still further delayed by the religious disturbances then becoming violent.  The Jesuits contrived to have Kepler’s library sealed up, and, but for the Imperial protection, would have imprisoned him also; moreover the peasants revolted and blockaded Linz.  In 1627, however, the long promised Tables, the first to discard the conventional circular motion, were at last published at Ulm in four parts.  Two of these parts consisted of subsidiary Tables, of logarithms and other computing devices, another contained Tables of the elements of the sun, moon, and planets, and the fourth gave the places of a thousand stars as determined by Tycho, with Tycho’s refraction Tables, which had the peculiarity of using different values for the refraction of the sun, moon, and stars.  From a map prefixed to some copies of the Tables, we may infer that Kepler was one of the first, if not actually the first, to suggest the method of determining differences of longitude by occultations of stars at the moon’s limb.  In an Appendix, he showed how his Tables could be used by astrologers for their predictions, saying “Astronomy is the daughter of Astrology, and this modern Astrology again is the daughter of Astronomy, bearing something of the lineaments of her grandmother; and, as I have already said, this foolish daughter, Astrology, supports her wise but needy mother, Astronomy, from the profits of a profession not generally considered creditable”.  There is no doubt that Kepler strongly resented having to depend so much for his income on such methods which he certainly did not consider creditable.

It was probably Galileo whose praise of the new Tables induced the Grand Duke of Tuscany to send Kepler a gold chain soon after their publication, and we may perhaps regard it as a mark of favour from the Emperor Ferdinand that he permitted Kepler to attach himself to the great Wallenstein, now Duke of Friedland, and a firm believer in Astrology.  The Duke was a better paymaster than either of the three successive Emperors.  He furnished Kepler with an assistant and a printing press; and obtained for him the Professorship of Astronomy at the University of Rostock in Mecklenburg.  Apparently, however, the Emperor could not induce Wallenstein to take over the responsibility of the 8000 crowns, still owing from the Imperial treasury on account of the Rudolphine Tables.  Kepler made a last attempt to secure payment at Ratisbon, but his journey thither brought disappointment and fatigue and left him in such a condition that he rapidly succumbed to an attack of fever, dying in November, 1630, in his fifty-ninth year.  His body was buried at Ratisbon, but the tombstone was destroyed during the

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Kepler from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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