The Composition of Kepler's

The Composition of Kepler's "Astronomia nova"

by James R. Voelkel
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691007381

ISBN-13: 9780691007380

Pub. Date: 10/29/2001

Publisher: Princeton University Press

This is one of the most important studies in decades on Johannes Kepler, among the towering figures in the history of astronomy. Drawing extensively on Kepler's correspondence and manuscripts, James Voelkel reveals that the strikingly unusual style of Kepler's magnum opus, Astronomia nova (1609), has been traditionally misinterpreted. Kepler laid forth the

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Overview

This is one of the most important studies in decades on Johannes Kepler, among the towering figures in the history of astronomy. Drawing extensively on Kepler's correspondence and manuscripts, James Voelkel reveals that the strikingly unusual style of Kepler's magnum opus, Astronomia nova (1609), has been traditionally misinterpreted. Kepler laid forth the first two of his three laws of planetary motion in this work. Instead of a straightforward presentation of his results, however, he led readers on a wild goose chase, recounting the many errors and false starts he had experienced. This had long been deemed a ''confessional'' mirror of the daunting technical obstacles Kepler faced. As Voelkel amply demonstrates, it is not.

Voelkel argues that Kepler's style can be understood only in the context of the circumstances in which the book was written. Starting with Kepler's earliest writings, he traces the development of the astronomer's ideas of how the planets were moved by a force from the sun and how this could be expressed mathematically. And he shows how Kepler's once broader research program was diverted to a detailed examination of the motion of Mars. Above all, Voelkel shows that Kepler was well aware of the harsh reception his work would receive—both from Tycho Brahe's heirs and from contemporary astronomers; and how this led him to an avowedly rhetorical pseudo-historical presentation of his results. In treating Kepler at last as a figure in time and not as independent of it, this work will be welcomed by historians of science, astronomers, and historians.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691007380
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/29/2001
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.06(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

PART 1: THE MYSTERIUM COSMOGRAPHICUM 11

CHAPTER ONE: The Copernican Context 13

CHAPTER TWO: The Development of the Mysterium cosmographicum 26

CHAPTER THREE: The Mysterium cosmographicum 46

CHAPTER FOUR: Responses to the Mysterium cosmographicum 60

PART 2: THE ASTRONOMIA NOVA 93

CHAPTER FIVE: Kepler and Tycho 97

CHAPTER SIX: Kepler's Work after Tycho's Death 130

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Tychonics 142

CHAPTER EIGHT: David Fabricius 170

CHAPTER NINE: The Rhetorical Character of the Astronomia nova 211

CONCLUSION 247

Notes 255

Bibliograpby 295

Index 301

Index of Correspondence 307

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