December 27 ~  Single Intelligent Man Kepler: Discovering Laws of Planetary Motion

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

Johannes Kepler

Mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was born on this day in Weil der Stadt, Germany, a village near the Black Forest. With a passion for the universe, he published a defense of the Copernican sun-centered model in 1596.

Kepler was key to the Scientific Revolution and his discoveries led the way for others, notably Isaac Newton, who built on Kepler's work. He once said: "Nature uses as little as possible of anything."

He worked with, then succeeded, renowned astronomer Tycho Brahe as Prague's Imperial Mathematician (1601). Three years later, he observed a supernova in the Milky Way Galaxy, Kepler's star, a brilliant new star described in De stella nova, his published work on vision, light, and change.

"The roads by which men arrive at their insights into celestial matters seem to me almost as worthy of wonder as those matters in themselves," he said.

With a passion for music, philosophy, nature, experimentation, and astrology, Kepler studied the shapes of snowflakes and wrote the first modern book of optics.

A devout Lutheran, he said, "For a long time I wanted to become a theologian... Now, however, behold how through my effort God is being celebrated in astronomy." His coat of arms bore an angel. With the heart of a mystic, he believed the earth had a soul.

In 1609, he published Astronomia Nova--the mathematical principles of modern astronomy which outlined the three laws of planetary motion. Kepler’s First Law replaced the notion of circular orbits with elliptical ones.

His Rudolphine Tables (1627), a culmination of his life's work, helped him to predict the first observable transits of Mercury and Venus. "Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife.”

Accept the criticism. Who needs platitudes?