Kepler’s last home is this orange house located in Keplerstrasse 5 in Regensburg. Reading the famous Kepler’s biography written by Max Caspar:
[…] On November 2  he rode, tired, on a skinny nag, over The Stone Bridge into Regensburg. He took up quarters in Hillebrand Billj’s house in the street now named after him. This acquaintance was a tradesman and later an innkeeper.
Only a few days after his arrival Kepler came down with an acute illness. His body was weakened by much night study, by constant worry, and also by the long journey at a bad time of year. In the beginning he attributed no significance to his being taken ill. He had often before suffered from attacks of fever. He believed that his fever originated from “sacer ignis”, fire-pustules. As the illness became worse, an attempt was made to help him by bleeding. But soon he began to lose consciousness and became delirious. Several pastors visited him and “refreshed him with the vitalizing water of consolation”. It is not said anywhere that holy communion was afforded him. In the throes of death Pastor Christoph Sigmund Donauer rendered him aid. When, almost in the last moment of his life, he was asked on what he pinned his hope of salvation, he answered full of confidence: only and alone on the services of Jesus Christ; in Him is based, as he wanted to testify firmly and resolutely, all refuge, all his solace and welfare. At noon on November 15 this pious man breathed his last. […].
A plaque on the facade says that this is the house which I was looking for when I have arrived at Regensburg:
Bad luck! This small museum is only open in the weekends and it’s possible to rent a guided visit only for groups! I’ve not arrived here to give up! Finally, I’ve been able to visit it and the first thing that I’ve seen… the magnificent bust of the last owner of the house…
… over a plaque in German language where it’s possible to read a little part of this story:
The museum located in the house is very small and explains Kepler’s life and works focussing the interest in his astronomical discoveries and his three laws.
There is also a representation of the barrels whose volume was calculated precisely by Kepler in 1615:
Another bust representing the great mathematician is in the room of the first floor next to some information about his commemorative monument also in Regensburg.
There are a lot of Kepler’s works (which seem to be original) and this wonderful German edition of Napier’s logarithms (1631) which couldn’t be used by Kepler but exemplifies the great impact that this powerful calculator had in the beginning of the 17th century.
Of course, his Astronomia Nova, his Harmonices mundi,… and his Tabula Rudolphinae are also exhibited.
There also are explanation about his relation with Tycho Brahe and the Copernican system and a lot of astronomical instruments like sextants, globes, compasses,…
Finally, I want to say goodbye looking at this famous portrait. This man discovered the elliptical orbits of the palnets and his obsession with numbers let him find the second and the third law. Copernicus was right and Newton will be confirm all this theories. The World was explained (Wait Einstein, wait!).
Location: Kepler’s museum in Regensburg (map)
This building is the theorical Kepler’s bithplace in Weil der Stadt which hosts a very small museum about Kepler’s life and work:
At the age of six Kepler attends the German school. Continuing with Latin school he has to interrupt his attendance several times to help his parents with their work in the fields and at their inn. As a result he requires five years to complete the usual three school years.
The sickly child shows more enthusiasm at school than for hard work in the fields. His parents decide to send him to monastery school: First to the Adelberg monastery school (lower seminary) and then to Maulbronn (higher seminary).
His school comrades and teachers give him a hard time: At an early stage he starts to have his own ideas of church doctrine. His main struggle is with the meaning of Predestination and Communion.
Two celestial phenomena arouse his interest in astronomy: His mother shows him a comet, his father a lunar eclipse. Both phenomena remain in his mind for a long time. On the other hand, he never mentions his astronomy lessons in his written work.
During the Age of Reformation the University of Tübingen, founded in 1477, forms the intellectual centre for Southern German Lutheran and for the Duchy of Württemberg. In 1536, Duke Ulrich orders the accomodation of poor students in Tübingen’s Stift. His aim is to ensure more graduates for loyal service in church and administration.
Coming from a humble background, Kepler wins a scholarship at the Stift. In 1589, he takes up his studies at the Faculty of Arts providing a general education, where the talented student receives many important stimuli. In particular, he studies the works of the Neoplatonists, whose ideas of a harmonically built creation make a deep impact on him.
However, his Professor of astronomy, Mästlin, influences him the most. Like a fatherly friend he familiarizes him with the ideas of Copernicus. Kepler sees an analogy in the central position of the sun to God’s omnipotence and consequently becomes a convinced advocate of the heliocentric view.
Kepler passes the baccalaureat exam at the Faculty of Arts as the second best in his class. […]. Before graduating, he accepts the position as provincial mathematician in Graz.
These were the first steps in Kepler’s life and the first thing that you see after entering the museum is the bust of this great mind:
Since 1594, as a provincial mathematician in Graz, Kepler…
[…] has to teach at the Lutheran seminary and write astrological calendars. His enthusiasm for astronomy inspires him to do his own research, and in 1596 he publishes his first work on astronomy Mysterium Cosmographicum.
He attempts to prove that a harmonic creation allows for only six planets. He regards the five regular Platonic polyhedra as elements of the planetary system, which, nested in the proper order, should determine the planet’s distance to the sun. As this approximately corresponds with the Copernican planetary distances, the work catches the attention of such important astronomers as Galileo Galieli and Tycho Brahe.
In spite of his fame, Kepler has to worry about his position in Graz. The Counter-Reformation creates great tension between the Lutheran inhabitants and the Catholic authorities. To recommend himself to the archduke Kepler dedicates a treatise to him on the solar eclipse of July 10th, 1600.
However, this does not prevent his expulsion from Graz one month later.
So these years in Graz were the period in which Kepler dreamt of his Mysterium cosmographicum and the possibility of the God’s design for the universe based in the regular polyhedra:
After Graz, Kepler became Tycho Brahe’s assistnat in Prague. After Tycho’s death, he assumed his position as imperial mathematician for Emperor Rudolph II:
[…] The quality of the [astronomical] data depends on the exactness of the particular orbit theory. Since all tables used around 1600 are inaccurate, Emperor Rudolph commissions Brahe and Kepler with the creation of the Tabulae Rudolphinae in 1601. When Brahe dies in the same year Kepler has to continue the work on his own.
It takes 22 years to complete the final version of the tables. Alone, the development of the elliptical orbits takes Kepler eight years. When he hears about the development of Napier’s logarithm, he integrates this into his tables and manages to simplify the calculation of orbital positions […]
Kepler discovered his first law and published it in his Astronomia nova (1609) and ten years later, he publishes his Harmonice mundi with the second and the third laws. Furthermore, Kepler had also time to wpork on infinitesimal calculus to compute the volume of some tonnels of wine:
I could follow explaining more things about Kepler’s life and works but this museum is very small so you must visit it. And Weil der Stadt is a very beautiful town!
Weil der Stadt is located near Stuttgart. Johannes Kepler was born in this very veautiful town on December 27, 1571 and his memory is still there: this big statue is in the middle of the Market Square…
… and Copernicus, Mästlin, Tycho Brahe and Jobst Bürgi are with him in this monumental sculpture.
The four scientists are in the corners of the base of the statue and the words “Astronomia”, “Optica”, “Mathematica” and “Physica” are graved on each of the four sides.
I must say that here we have the first (imaginary) bust of Bürgi that I know. Bürgi was one of the originators of the logarithms because Kepler said that he had seen Bürgi using logarithms in astronomical calculus (Rudolphine Tables (1627)) before their “official” first occurrence in Napier’s Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio (1614). Furthermore, Bürgi published his logarithms in his Aritmetische und Geometrische Progreß tabulen (1620) but his “red numbers” and “black numbers” couldn’t never win the “logarithms” which were the first calculator in all history.
Notice that this statue is not very similar to this other portrait from 1620:
The base of the statue also have four graved images representing moments in Kepler’s life like thispicture with Kepler in the middle explaining the Copernican system…
… with Hipparchus and Ptolemy watching how a central Sun brights in the middle of the universe.
Can you imagine Kepler investigating about his elliptical orbits?
Next to Market Square there is his bithplace which hosts… no, no, no! Tomowwor will be another day!
Location: Weil der Stadt (map)
In a previous post I began to talk about this museum located inside Frombork castle. You can learn almost everything about him, his life and his works on medicine, economies and, of course, astronomy, including the replicas of his instruments (we saw them also in Warsaw). For example, it’s possible to see some facsmile editions of his works and also a recreation of his desk:
Among the references about his publication of his works, we can find this engraving showing Copernicus in a lecture for the Cracovian scientists in 1509:
Or this other wonderful one (1873) with Copernicus in he middle of the picture talking about his heliocentric system:
How proud he is of his heliocentric theory!
And who are his guests? First of all, Hipparcus (with the armillar spher) and Ptolemy (with his geocentric system) are listening the theory which will finish theirs. Ptolemy looks askance at Tycho Brahe meanwhile Newton is looking at Laplace:
Galileo Galilei is behind Copernicus looking at him with great reverence:
And Hevelius, the other great Polish astronomer, agrees Copernicus’ theories although he never had the telescope to check them.
Finally, Johannes Kepler seems to be bored of listening this obvious theory although his ellipses will be the curves which will change the astronomy.
A beautiful picture for a beautiful museum. Next step: the cathedral!
Location: Frombork castle (map)
This is one of the Top 10 Museums in Prague! The museum was founded in 1908 and has been in its current location since 1941. It’s a very big building and the collection exhibited is so big although the exhibition about transports is its main attraction:
But for me, the exhibition about Astronomy has been the interesting part of the museum and I have been able to visit it on my own meanwhile my children were playing in another room with some technical toys. The astronomical rooms are very dark so it has been very difficult to take good pictures although I’ve tried to do my best. The collections has sundials, armilar spheres, quadrants, astrolabes,… and a lot of other astronomical instruments:
For example, the polyhedrical sundials are so beautiful like this constructed on a cube by German David Beringer around 1750:
Or… what about this other constructed by Mathias Karl Krausler in 1691?
The oldest exhibited astrolabe is this unsigned one from around 1450:
And there also is an unsigned torquetum from the late 16th century:
One of the instruments which have surprised me has been Joost Bürgi’s sextant for measuring the angles of celestial bodies (I knew that Bürgi, one of the inventor of logarithms, had constructed a lot of clocks and astronomical instruments but I didn’t expect to find one here!). Kepler used it to measure two consecutive oppositions of the planet Mars in 1602 and 1604.
There also is Habermel’s sextant, built by Erasmus Habermel (1538 – 15th of November of 1606 in Prag) who was mechanic at the court of Emperor Rudolph II:
The prevailing opinion for a long time was that the instrument belonged to Brahe and so it was called the “Tychonian sextant”.
Habermel was specialised in small devices and portable sundials and one example is this sundial in the form of a book (c.1600)…
… and another is this equinoctial sundial (1585):
Finally, look at this armilar sphere from the second half of the 16th century! It’s a piece of art!
Almost nobody knows that near St. Vitus Cathedral there is this wonderful sculpture representing these two great astronomers together looking at the sky. Everybody visit the cathedral, the castle and Loreto and if they walked a little bit more they’d arrive to a high school called Johannes Kepler where they’d find these two statues by Josef Vajce in 1983.
By the way, it seems that it’s forbidden to climb on the pedestal because two policemen had come to me and… nothing important. But it’s forbidden.
Location: Gimnasium Jana Keplera (map)
Today is my birthday and among all the possible mathematical posts that I can write I’ve decided to show Tycho Brahe’s tomb. I don’t know the reason but I feel good when I am in front of the tomb of one of the great scientifics! It’s like being with them and their works. I often read about their lifes and their tombs are another section of the stories which explain their fortune, jobs,…
Today Tycho Brahe has been the guest star in Prague. I had been here twice before but I hadn’t never visited the Church of Our Lady before Tyn where Brahe was buried.
The legend says that on October 13, 1601, Tycho Brahe attended a banquet where he drank a lot and he was so polite to leave the table to empty his bladder. So he became ill and suffered from fever, delirious and periods of unconsciousness until his death on the 24th October.
He was buried near the altar of Our Lady before Tyn where a marble monument was erected in 1604, the same year in which his wife Kirsten Jörgensdatter died and was buried next to him.
When the tomb was opened in 1901, the scientist thought that Brahe had been poissoned from the high level of mercury which they found in his hair. In 2010 the tomb was re-opened and new investigations demonstrated that this level of mercury wasn’t able to kill him so it’s impossible to know how Tycho Brahe died.
Thus, if you visit Prague you must go to this emblematic church of the city to see the tombstone and imagine how this great astronomer died. One thing more, Brahe had a silver prothesys in his nose because he was hurt in a duel when he was young but this interesting historical piece hadn’t been found.
Here you have a drawing by Josef Carmine of Our Lady before Tyn at the end of the 18th century:
Location: Church of Our Lady before Tyn (map)
Today is Tycho Brahe’s 467th birthday and there is a beautiful Doodle dedicated to him in Google’s main page.
The great scientific names in the History of Science also have their space in the museum as we can see in this medal with the name of Edmund Halley.
Christopher Wren’s name is in one of the windows of the stairs through which you go to the first floor:
The inscription is under a big “coat of arms” dedicated to the Science:
We must also notice this portrait of Tycho Brahe who is next to portraits of Flamsteed and Hevelius
Finally, I am going to mention the famous blackboard written by Albert Einstein: