Related topics: planets · nasa · spacecraft · stars · orbit

Why some planets eat their own skies

For many years, for all we knew, our solar system was alone in the universe. Then better telescopes began to reveal a treasure trove of planets circling distant stars.

NASA's latest exoplanet posters are a Halloween treat

Just in time for Halloween, NASA has released two new posters celebrating some truly terrifying exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. Free to download, the entertaining posters recall vintage horror movie advertisements ...

The ongoing search for habitable exoplanets

A balmy Florida evening, and my family and I stood on Cocoa Beach, looking northward toward the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. We were part of a seaside crowd gathered to witness the launch of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. ...

Measuring stellar oscillations with Kepler

The Kepler satellite is famous for its discovery of thousands of exoplanets by continuously and meticulously measuring the brightnesses of over half-a-million stars for the signatures of transiting exoplanets. Less well known ...

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Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler (pronounced /ˈkɛplər/) (December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution. He is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astrononomy. They also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation.

During his career, Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a seminary school in Graz, Austria, an assistant to astronomer Tycho Brahe, the court mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, a mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and an adviser to General Wallenstein. He also did fundamental work in the field of optics, invented an improved version of the refracting telescope (the Keplerian Telescope), and helped to legitimize 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 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.

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