Astronomy Versus Astrology

Chapter
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 1)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

History and philosophy of astronomy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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).

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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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