Kepler eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 53 pages of information about Kepler.
war then raging.  His daughter, Susanna, the wife of Jacob Bartsch, a physician who had helped Kepler with his Ephemeris, lost her husband soon after her father’s death, and succeeded in obtaining part of Kepler’s arrears of salary by threatening to keep Tycho’s manuscripts, but her stepmother was left almost penniless with five young children.  For their benefit Louis Kepler printed a “Dream of Lunar Astronomy,” which first his father and then his brother-in-law had been preparing for publication at the time of their respective deaths.  It is a curious mixture of saga and fairy tale with a little science in the way of astronomy studied from the moon, and cast in the form of a dream to overcome the practical difficulties of the hypothesis of visiting the moon.  Other writings in large numbers were left unpublished.  No attempt at a complete edition of Kepler’s works was made for a long time.  One was projected in 1714 by his biographer, Hantsch, but all that appeared was one volume of letters.  After various learned bodies had declined to move in the matter the manuscripts were purchased for the Imperial Russian library.  An edition was at length brought out at Frankfort by C. Frisch, in eight volumes, appearing at intervals from 1858-1870.

Kepler’s fame does not rest upon his voluminous works.  With his peculiar method of approaching problems there was bound to be an inordinate amount of chaff mixed with the grain, and he used no winnowing machine.  His simplicity and transparent honesty induced him to include everything, in fact he seemed to glory in the number of false trails he laboriously followed.  He was one who might be expected to find the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” but unfortunately the needle was not always there.  Delambre says, “Ardent, restless, burning to distinguish himself by his discoveries he attempted everything, and having once obtained a glimpse of one, no labour was too hard for him in following or verifying it.  All his attempts had not the same success, and in fact that was impossible.  Those which have failed seem to us only fanciful; those which have been more fortunate appear sublime.  When in search of that which really existed, he has sometimes found it; when he devoted himself to the pursuit of a chimera, he could not but fail, but even then he unfolded the same qualities, and that obstinate perseverance that must triumph over all difficulties but those which are insurmountable.”  Berry, in his “Short History of Astronomy,” says “as one reads chapter after chapter without a lucid, still less a correct idea, it is impossible to refrain from regrets that the intelligence of Kepler should have been so wasted, and it is difficult not to suspect at times that some of the valuable results which lie embedded in this great mass of tedious speculation were arrived at by a mere accident.  On the other hand it must not be forgotten that such accidents have a habit of happening only to great men, and that if

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Kepler from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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