Archives for category: Somnium

At last, some new translations! Kepler’s first five footnotes to Somnium. He’d hit his stride by Footnote 2:

2020-05-28 05_24_24-II _ The Somnium Project


Solar eclipses also feature in one of the earliest science fiction stories, the “Somnium,” (or “The Dream”) written by the German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler and published in 1634.

In the story, Kepler’s hero hears a description of space travel by “daemons” that live in the shadow of moon.

When a solar eclipse occurs, Kepler’s daemons are able to travel between the moon and the Earth on a “bridge of shadow” — and they sometimes even take human passengers with them.

“We confer with other daemons of the same region and plan an alliance so when the sunlight first begins to leave a region of space, we move in massed ranks into the shadow,” said Kepler’s lunar daemon.

“For if the sharp point of the moon’s shadow touches the earth, which often happens, our allied squadrons fall upon the earth.


Source: Christopher Columbus to Thailand’s Kings: 11 Curious Eclipse Stories

Explaining Science

My latest post is about the work of the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).  He is most famous for his improvement to the earlier model of Copernicus by introducing the idea that the planets move in elliptical, rather than circular, orbits and that their movements in these orbits are governed by a set of laws, which became known as Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. However, as I’ll talk about later, he also made many other major contributions to astronomy and mathematics.

Johannes Kepler – Image from Wikimedia Commons

As readers of a previous post will be aware, in 1543 the Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus (1473–1543) published a theory in which the Earth and all the planets orbited the Sun. Prior to Copernicus, the generally accepted view was that the Earth was the centre of the Universe and the Sun, the stars and the planets were all in motion around it. However…

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