Historians discuss astronomer Johannes Kepler in this BBC4 radio broadcast.
On 6 June 2012, a transit of Venus occurred. This rare astronomical event, when Venus passes directly in front of the Sun, and appears as a large black dot on its surface slowly moving from one side to the other in about 3 hours, has only happened eight times since the invention of the telescope (ref 1). This post talks about the transit of Venus and why it has been so important to the development of astronomy.
The 2012 transit of Venus – Image from NASA. Venus is the large dot on the top left of the Sun’s surface.
Why transits of Venus are so rare.
The Earth takes slightly longer than 365 days, 365.256 days to be precise, to complete one orbit of the Sun. Venus, which is both closer to Sun and moves faster in its orbit, takes 224.701 days to complete one orbit. The point in time when Venus is closest to the Earth and…
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by guest contributor Nicholas Bellinson
One Bohemian night in 1608, the Imperial Mathematician gazed up at the moon and the stars. In the seven years since he had received that title, Johannes Kepler had discovered many things about these celestial bodies, some true and some (as Hesiod said) like the truth: that planets moved around the sun, not the earth; that they moved in ellipses, not perfect circles; that they were enormous magnets – to name a few. The following year, he would publish these discoveries as his New Astronomy, a book which would make his name a fixed star in the firmament of science. On this particular night, however, a different book was on Kepler’s mind. His curiosity had been aroused by popular historical comparisons to the current troubles between Emperor Rudolph and his brother, the Archduke Matthias; while investigating Bohemian legends, Kepler had come across the story…
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At the beginning of the month physicist and popular science writer, Paul Halpern posted the following tweet:
“Kepler’s remarkable Somnium, one of the 1st sci-fi stories, later used as evidence in his mother’s witchcraft trial”
Now knowing a thing or two about Kepler’s Johannes and his more than bizarre life, I’ve even written a post on the witchcraft trial, I tweeted back:
It wasn’t used as evidence in his mother’s trial
Read More: The Renaissance Mathematicus