The Geometry of the Solar System: Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion
The German mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) worked tirelessly for years trying to make sense the data of his employer Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman-astronomer. Tycho was a meticulous observer. From his self-financed and constructed observatory in Denmark, Tycho in the late 1500s had gathered an enormous set of positional data on the movements of the planets, including Mars. Later (in 1600) Tycho hired Kepler to be his assistant in Prague, in the court of Rudolph II, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Though Kepler was Tycho’s able assistant, Tycho was not generous with sharing his data with Kepler. This frustration ended upon Tycho’s death, Kepler succeeded to his position as imperial mathematician, and inherited all of Tycho’s precious notes. Tycho’s data on Mars in particular was thorough and precise, far more accurate than any observations in the history of astronomy.
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