Kepler, Johannes

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(1571-1630) German astronomer, one-time assistant to Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) and later imperial mathematician and astrologer to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II. Kepler's contribution to Astronomy – most notably his three laws of planetary motion – provided vital groundwork for Newton's cosmological synthesis. In 1593 he prepared a dissertation on the heliocentric theory, which explained how events in the heavens would be seen by an observer stationed on the Moon; a new draft, in which the observer is conveniently placed on the Moon by a demon conjured up by his mother, was prepared in 1609 (the manuscript was stolen in 1611 and Kepler later had to defend his own mother against an accusation of witchcraft, a charge which may have been encouraged by the literary device). Between 1620 and 1630 he annotated the essay extensively, but he died while it was being prepared for publication; it finally appeared as Somnium ["The Dream"; for full title see Checklist] (1634 in Latin; definitive trans Edward Rosen as Kepler's "Somnium" 1967; a cut trans by E F Bleiler had earlier appeared in Beyond Time and Space, anth 1950 ed August W Derleth). The last section constructs a hypothetical Ecology for the Moon, a significant pioneering Proto SF exercise in the imagination of Life on Other Worlds. [BS]

see also: Biology; Cosmology; Fantastic Voyages; Germany; History of SF; Space Flight.

Johannes Kepler

born Weil der Stadt, Free Imperial City [now in Germany]: 27 December 1571

died Regensburg, Bavaria [now in Germany]: 15 November 1630

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