Johannes Kepler was born on December 27, 1571 in Weil der Stadt, Germany. Kepler's grandfather was supposedly from a noble background, and once Mayor of Weil. However, Kepler's father became a mercenary who narrowly avoided the gallows. Kepler's mother, Katherine, was raised by an aunt who was eventually burned as a witch. In later years, Katherine herself was accused of Devil worship, and barely escaped from being burned at the stake. Kepler had six brothers and sisters, three of which, died in infancy. In his youth, Johannes was described as:
"...a sickly child, with thin limbs and a large, pasty face surrounded by dark curly hair. He was born with defective eyesight-myopia plus anocular polyopy (multiple vision). His stomach and gall bladder gave constant trouble; he suffered from boils, rashes, and possibly from piles, for he tells us that he could never sit still for any length of time..." (Koestler, p 24)From this inauspicious start, Johannes Kepler began his fascinating journey as a pioneer in astronomy.
Johannes Kepler graduated from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Tuebingen at the age of twenty, intending to matriculate into the Theological Faculty. It was here that Kepler learned and became an adherent of the heliocentric theory of planetary motion, first developed by the Dutch astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
In 1594, Kepler left Tuebingen for the University of Graz to become a professor of astronomy. It was here that Kepler realized that figures of the type shown here determine a definite fixed ratio between the sizes of the two circles, provided the triangle has all sides equal, and a different ratio of sizes will occur for a square between the two circles, another for a regular pen...
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...ay, remains one of the greatest figures in astronomy. However, his endeavors were not just limited to this field. He is often called the founder of modern optics for his first use of eyeglasses designed for nearsightedness and farsightedness, his explanations of vision by refraction within the eyes, and his explanation of the use of both eyes for depth perception. Furthermore, he explained the principles of the telescope.
His book Stereometrica Doliorum formed the basis of integral calculus. First to explain that the tides are caused by the Moon (Galileo rebuked him for this). First to use stellar parallax caused by the Earth's orbit to try to measure the distance to the stars; the same principle as depth perception. First to suggest that the Sun rotates about its axis in Astronomia Nova First to derive the birth year of Christ, that is now universally accepted.
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