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determined man were accompanied, as often happens, by an overbearing manner, intolerant of obstacles. This led to friction, and eventually the observatories were dismantled, and Tycho Brahe was received by the Emperor Rudolph II., who placed a house in Prague at his disposal. Here he worked for a few years, with Kepler as one of his assistants, and he died in the year 1601. It is an interesting fact that Tycho Brahe had a firm conviction that mundane events could be predicted by astrology, and that this belief was supported by his own predictions. It has already been stated that Tycho Brahe maintained that observation must precede theory. He did not accept the Copernican theory that the earth moves, but for a working hypothesis he used a modification of an old Egyptian theory, mathematically identical with that of Copernicus, but not involving a stellar parallax. He says (De Mundi, etc.) that the Ptolemean system was too complicated, and the new one which that great man Copernicus had proposed, following in the footsteps of Aristarchus of Samos, though there was nothing in it contrary to mathematical principles, was in opposition to those of physics, as the heavy and sluggish earth is unfit to move, and the system is even opposed to the authority of Scripture. The absence of annual parallax further involves an incredible distance
between the outermost planet and the fixed Stars.
We are bound to admit that in the circumstances of the case, so long as there was no question of dynamical forces connecting the members of the solar system, his reasoning, as we should expect from such a man, is practical and sound. It is not surprising, then, that astronomers generally did not readily accept the views of Copernicus, that Luther (Luther's Tischreden, pp. 22, 6o) derided him in his usual pithy manner, that Melancthon (Initia doctrinae physica) said that Scripture, and also science, are against the earth's motion; and that the men of science whose opinion was asked for by the cardinals (who wished to know whether Galileo was right or wrong) looked upon Copernicus as a weaver of fanciful theories.
Johann Kepler is the name of the man whose place, as is generally agreed, would have been the most difficult to fill among all those who have contributed to the advance of astronomical knowledge. He was born at Wiel, in the Duchy of Wurtemberg, in 1571. He held an appointment at Gratz, in Styria, and went to join Tycho Brahe in Prague, and to assist in reducing his observations. These came into his possession when Tycho Brahe died, the Emperor Rudolph entrusting to him the preparation of new tables (called the Rudolphine tables) founded on the new and accurate observations. He had the most profound respect for the knowledge, skill, determination, and perseverance of the man who had reaped such a harvest of most accurate data; and though Tycho hardly recognised the transcendent genius of the man who was working as his assistant, and although there were disagree
PortRAIT OF JOHANNEs KEPLER.
ments between them, Kepler held to his post, sustained by the conviction that, with these observations to test any theory, he would be in a position to settle for ever the problem of the Solar system.
It has seemed to many that Plato's demand for uniform circular motion (linear or angular) was responsible for a loss to astronomy of good work during fifteen hundred years, for a hundred ill-considered speculative cosmogonies, for dissatisfaction, amounting to disgust, with these a priori guesses, and for the relegation of the science to less intellectual races than Greeks and other Europeans. Nobody seemed to dare to depart from this fetish of uniform angular motion and circular orbits until the insight, boldness, and independence of Johann Kepler opened up a new world of thought and of intellectual delight.
While at work on the Rudolphine tables he used the old epicycles and deferents and excentrics, but he could not make theory agree with observation. His instincts told him that these apologists for uniform motion were a fraud; and he proved it to himself by trying every possible variation of the elements and finding them fail. The number of hypotheses which he examined and rejected was almost incredible (for example, that the planets turn round centres at a little distance from the sun, that the epicycles have centres at a little distance from the deferent, and so on). He says that, after using all these devices to make theory agree with Tycho's observations, he still found errors amounting to eight minutes of a degree. Then he said boldly that it was impossible that so good an observer as Tycho could have made a mistake of eight minutes, and added: “Out of these eight minutes we will construct a new theory that will explain the motions of all the planets.” And he did it, with elliptic orbits having the sun in a focus of each." It is often difficult to define the boundaries between fancies, imagination, hypothesis, and sound theory. This extraordinary genius was a master in all these modes of attacking a problem. His analogy between the spaces occupied by the five regular solids and the distances of the planets from the sun, which filled him with so much
* An ellipse is one of the plane sections of a cone. It is an oval curve, which may be drawn by fixing two pins in a sheet of paper at S and H, fastening a string, SPH, to the two pins, and stretching it with a pencilpoint at P, and moving the pencil-point, while the string is kept taut, to trace the oval ellipse, APB. S and H are the foci. Kepler found the sun to be in one focus, say S. AB is the major axis. DE is the minor axis. C is the centre. The direction of AB is the line of apses. The ratio of CS to CA is the excentricity. The position of the planet at A is the perihelion (nearest to the sun). The position of the planet at B is the aphelion (farthest from the sun). The angle ASP is the anomaly when the planet is at P. CA or a line drawn from S to D is the mean distance of the planet from the sun.