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Learn about Johannes Kepler

Introduction

Johannes Kepler is one of the well-known mathematicians. His works can be accredited in numerous fields and mathematics is inclusive in this aspect. He discovered the elliptical orbits of the planets and described the laws of planetary motion. All this started in a quaint German town. Kepler lived in that town from 1571 to 1630. In starting there he was a student and later on worked as a teacher and imperial mathematician. He had a strong devotion to the church.

Early life

Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, in a small town of Weil der Stadt, Southwest Germany. His father, Heinrich Kepler, was a mercenary soldier who left the home when Johannes was only five. His father is believed to have died in the war in the Netherlands. His mother, Katharina Kepler, was a daughter of an innkeeper. As a child without a father, Kepler started living with his mother in his grandfather’s inn. The name of Kepler was once noble since one of his great-great-grandfathers was knighted due to his service in the army. Kepler was a religious child and wished to pursue his studies so he could enter the church. His second great interest was in mathematics. From childhood, in his games, he always tried to compare the disciplines of theology and mathematics. A few happy moments were recollected by Kepler during his early life. When he was five, Kepler’s mother took him out one night to see the bright comet of that year. This comet was also being observed by Tycho Brahe(famous astronomer of his time) in Denmark. Kepler believed that God had made the Universe with a great mathematical plan.

Education

He started his early education in a local school in his town and then at a nearby seminary. Kepler was an intelligent boy and had the highest standards of excellence in his school. At the age of Sixteen, he completed his bachelor’s degree from Maulbronn Monastery. After that, he moved to the University of Tübingen to receive his master’s degree. There Kepler met with his mathematics teacher, German astronomer, Michael Maestlin. He was one of few people who recognized that the Copernican system(model of the solar system centered on the Sun, with Earth and other planets moving around it) was correct. At Tübingen University, Kepler studied not only mathematics but also two languages (Hebrew and Greek).

Career and Research

In 1595, Kepler began to teach mathematics at high school. He wasn’t a good teacher as he often mumbled to himself about his researches. Kepler found that instead of seven planets in the Copernican system, there were only six planets, Moon had a different kind of astronomy which he later described as a satellite of the earth.

Kepler’s research work also carried out while he was teaching in Graz. He wrote the book ‘Mysterium Cosmographicum’ which described the reason for the huge space between the planets. Kepler hoped for better observations for his researches, so he sent a copy of the Mysterium Cosmographicum to one of the foremost observational astronomers of the time, Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601). At that time Tycho was working in Prague (the then capital of the Holy Roman Empire) and searching for a mathematical assistant. He gave the job to Kepler.

Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

Under the guidance of his mentor Tycho Brahe, Kepler was able to collect the data carefully and proposed three laws of planetary motion. Those efforts of Kepler to explain the reasons for such motion of planets are no longer accepted, nevertheless, these three laws are still considered as an accurate description of the motion of planets and satellite.
Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion are described as following:

  • The first law describes the elliptical path of the planets about the sun. The center of the sun is always spotted at one focus. (The Law of Ellipses)
  • Kepler’s second law – referred to as the law of equal areas – describes imaginary lines drawn from the center of the sun to the center of the planet will cover equal areas in equal intervals of time. (The Law of Equal Areas)
  • The third law of Kepler compares the orbital period and radius of orbit of a planet to those of other planets. (The Law of Harmonies)

Along with astronomy, Kepler had also a deep interest in optics. He explained the working of a telescope, how refraction occurs in our eyes and the depth perception phenomenon, that is, why both eyes are needed to observe the third dimension. He also contributed to the study of eyeglass lenses for compensation of poor vision. He formed the scientific basis of today’s practice of vision correction.

Throughout his life, Kepler held a theological outlook. He wrote numerous references to God, and he explained his work as the attainment of his Christian duty to understand the works of God.

Death

Johannes Kepler died on November 15, 1630, in Regensburg(in south-east Germany) due to illness. Today, He is remembered as one of the greatest scientists in history. NASA honored him with its powerful and successful Kepler planet-hunter(the Kepler space telescope).

Who is Johannes Kepler?

Johannes Kepler is one of the well-known mathematicians. His works can be accredited in numerous fields and mathematics is inclusive in this aspect. He discovered the elliptical orbits of the planets and described the laws of planetary motion.

How many planets did Kepler found?

Kepler found that instead of seven planets in the Copernican system, there were only six planets, Moon had a different kind of astronomy which he later described as a satellite of the earth.

What are Kepler's three laws of motion?

Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion are described as following:

-The first law describes the elliptical path of the planets about the sun. The center of the sun is always spotted at one focus. (The Law of Ellipses)

-Kepler’s second law – referred to as the law of equal areas – describes imaginary lines drawn from the center of the sun to the center of the planet will cover equal areas in equal intervals of time. (The Law of Equal Areas)

-The third law of Kepler compares the orbital period and radius of orbit of a planet to those of other planets. (The Law of Harmonies)

How did Johannes Kepler die?

Johannes Kepler died on November 15, 1630, in Regensburg(in south-east Germany) due to illness.

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