Astronomy Versus Astrology

  • Marek Artur AbramowiczEmail author
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 1)


Johannes Kepler was a great astronomer and a devoted astrologer. He tried to improve these two disciplines according to his grand mystic vision, based on Pythagorean musical and geometrical harmonies. However, Kepler’s enduring analysis of accurate observational data proved that the real nature of planetary motion, summarized in his Three Laws, does not follow from the Pythagorean harmonies. Kepler’s discovery of the Three Laws completely reformed astronomy and opened the avenue for modern science. Astrology has experienced no change from Kepler’s time. It is still an art of divination, based on groundless, arbitrary and unprecise rules and on embarrassingly loutish mathematics.


History and philosophy of astronomy 



Jerzy Kierul, the author of a bestselling book on Kepler [32], and Jarosław Włodarczyk, historian of science and editor of Polish translations of Kepler’s works [9], [17] helped me with information about Kepler’s life, ideas and work. Jiří Bičák, professor at the Charles University in Prague, enriched my knowledge about Praga Magica. Maciej Lipowski, a linguist, helped me with Latin and German quotations from old books. I could use these rare books thanks to help received from the staff of the Göteborg University Library. Archbishop Jan Tyrawa, Ordinary of the Bydgoszcz Diocese, explained to me a few theological subtleties relevant for this essay. Astronomers Günther Wuchterl and Klaudia Einhorn told me about their findings of Kepler’s errors and cheats in the Wallenstein horoscope. Małgosia Świentczak drew difficult figures for this essay, guided by my vague, and at times almost capricious, instructions. My wife Henryka and son Tomasz advised me in several editorial matters. I sincerely thank them all. I also thank the Editor of this volume, professor Jean-Pierre Lasota, my friend, for convincing me that I should write an essay on such an unusual subject, and for his constant support and encouragement. Finally, I acknowledge support by Polish grant NN 203 3814 36 and I thank the Czech Academy for very generously supporting my stay in Prague through the 2009 grant “Program podpory projekt˚u mezinárodní spolupráce AV ČR”. I thank my Czech colleagues for their hospitality and friendship.

I start from the complete chronological list of Kepler’s books,[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17], and his collected works [18, 19]. Not all of these are cited in the text. Then other references, all cited in the text, follow in the alphabetical order. I have read the listed references in English or in Polish (in the later case the Polish source is mentioned).


  1. 1.
    Mysterium cosmographicum, (1596), “The Sacred Mystery of the Cosmos”Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    De Fundamentis Astrologiae Certioribus, (1601), “Concerning the More Certain Fundamentals of Astrology”Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Astronomiae Pars Optica, (1604), “The Optical Part of Astronomy”Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii, (1604), “On the New Star in Ophiuchus’s Foot”Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Astronomia nova, (1609), “New Astronomy”Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tertius Interveniens, (1610)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo, (1610)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dioptrice, (1610)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    De nive sexangula, (1611), “On the Six-Cornered Snowflake”, Polish translation: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, (2006)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    De vero Anno, quo aeternus Dei Filius humanam naturam in Utero benedictae Virginis Mariae assumpsit, (1613)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Eclogae Chronicae, (1615)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nova stereometria doliorum vinariorum, (1615), “New Stereometry of Wine Barrels”Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae, (1618-1621), “Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, published in three parts,Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Harmonice Mundi, (1619) “Harmony of the Worlds”Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mysterium cosmographicum, 2nd Edition, (1621), “The Sacred Mystery of the Cosmos”Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tabulae Rudolphinae, (1627) “Rudolphine Tables”Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Somnium, (1634); “The Dream”, Polish translation: Scholar, (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gesammelte Werke (ed. M. Caspar)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Joannis Kepleri astronomi opera omnia, ed. C. Frisch, Heyder & Zimmer, Frankfurt a.M., (1858-1871)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Augustine, St.: De Genesi ad litteram (2:17:37)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    C.B. Boyer, The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Developments (Dover, New York, 1949)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    S. Carlson, A double-blind test of astrology. Nature 318, 419–425 (1985)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    M. Caspar, Kepler; English translation: C.D. Hellman, Introduction, ed. by O. Gingerich (Dover, New York, 1993)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    M. Dzielska, Hypatia of Alexandria (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1995); and the updated 3rd Polish edition: Universitas, Kraków (2010)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    K. Einhorn, G. Wuchterl, Kepler’s astrology and the Wallenstein’s horoscopes. Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Mathematica et Physica, 46(Supplementum), 101 (2004)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    C. Flammarion, L’atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (Hachette & Co., Paris, 1888), p. 163Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    G. Galilei, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, (1632); “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”, transl. by S. Drake, (University of California Press, Barkely, 1953)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    M. Gauquelin, L’influence des astres, Dauphin, (1955), “The Influence of the Stars”Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    E. Grant, Planets, Stars, and Orbs: The Medieval Cosmos ( Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    G. Greshake Der dreieine Gott: Eine trinitarische Theologie Herder (2007). Polish translation: abp. Jan Tyrawa, TUM (2009)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    M. Hunter, Science and Astrology in Seventeenth Century England: An Unpublished Polemic by John Flamsteed, in Astrology Science and Society: Historical Essays, ed. by P. Curry (Boydell Press, Wolfeboro, 1987)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    J. Kierul, Kepler, PIW, (2007); this book is avaliable only in PolishGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    A. Koestler, The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1959)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    P. Marshall, The Mercurial Emperor: The Magic Circle of Rudolf II in Renaissance Prague (Pimilco, London, 2007)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    R. Martens, Kepler’s Philosophy and the New Astronomy (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2000)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    J.W. Nienhuys, The mars effect in retrospect. Skeptical Inquirer 21, 24–29 (1997)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    J.D. North, Horoscopes and History (The Warburg Institute, London, 1986)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    G. Pico della Mirandola, Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem (Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna, Bologna, 1493); see The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History, ed. by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (St. Martins Press, New York, 1999)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    A. Saiber, Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2005)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    W. Sierpiński, Sur une courbe cantorienne qui contient une image biunivoque et continue de toute courbe donnée. Acad. Sci. Paris 162, 629–632 (1916)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    B. Stephenson, Kepler’s Physical Astronomy (Springer, New York, 1987)zbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Copernicus Astronomical CenterWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Institute of AstronomyCzech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic

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