Johannes Kepler 1571-1630 Germany, Austria
was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. These works also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton‘s theory of universal gravitation. He said: I have constantly prayed to God that I might succeed in what Copernicus had said was true.
Despite his desire to become a minister, near the end of his studies Kepler was recommended for a position as teacher of mathematics and astronomy at the Protestant school in Graz (later the University of Graz). He accepted the position in April 1594, at the age of 23.However he was expelled from this position in 1598 because of his Lutheran convictions. Another time he was fined for burying his second child according to Lutheran funeral rites.
Later he became an assistant to astronomer Tycho Brahe who said that he studied ‘the divine works that shine forth everywhere in the structure of the world’. Kepler eventually became the imperial mathematician. Additionally, he did fundamental work in the field of optics, invented an improved version of the refracting telescope (the Keplerian Telescope), and mentioned the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.
Kepler lived in an era when there was no clear distinction between astronomy and astrology, but there was a strong division between astronomy (a branch of mathematics within the liberal arts) and physics (a branch of natural philosophy). Kepler also incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work, motivated by the religious conviction and belief that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan that is accessible through the natural light of reason. Kepler described his new astronomy as "celestial physics", as "an excursion into Aristotle‘s Metaphysics", and as "a supplement to Aristotle’s On the Heavens", transforming the ancient tradition of physical cosmology by treating astronomy as part of a universal mathematical physics.
Moments before he died an attending Lutheran pastor asked him where he placed his faith. Calmly he replied, ‘Solely and alone in the work of our Redeemer Jesus Christ.’ Those were the final words of the man who earlier in his life had written that he only tried “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”
His wisdom is infinite; that of which we are ignorant is contained in Him, as well as the little that we know.
The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.