He Assists a Master

In 1598, Archduke Ferdinand of Hapsburg, a Catholic, closed down the university where Kepler taught, along with other Protestant schools, in an attempt to abolish the Protestant religion. The archduke allowed Kepler to stay on for a while; however, the following year he had to choose between converting to the Catholic faith or leaving. Kepler was not inclined to change his faith, yet he had nowhere to go. Tübingen would not take him due to his heretical Copernican views. Thus, he credited divine intervention when, in 1600, he learned that the great astronomer Tycho Brahe was now living in Prague as the chief astronomer to Emperor Rudolph II and was looking for an assistant. Kepler took the job at once, and on January 1, 1600, he and his family departed Gratz to join Brahe in Prague.

Kepler was excited about working for Brahe. His mass of observational data was well known, and Kepler believed he could use his data to study the orbits of the planets in support of Copernicanism. Brahe had other goals. He was interested only in furthering his own model, not that of Copernicus's, with whom he disagreed. Brahe was selfish with his data and set Kepler to work studying only the data on the eccentricities of Mars's orbit, which was considered to be the most difficult of all the planets. This was fortunate for Kepler and the advancement of astronomy in general, for it was the study of Mars, the planet with the most elliptical (oval) orbit in the solar system, that ultimately led to him to formulate the correct laws of planetary motion.

Telescopes Mastery

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