4. Kepler

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Book Chapter

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Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), a Dane, spent nearly his entire life making careful measurements of the positions of the stars and planets. Most of his work was done at Copenhagen under the patronage of the Danish king. He developed and refined astronomical instruments to an accuracy that was far superior to anything previously done. In his late years at Prague, he started on the reduction to order of the systematic observations that he had made over a period of decades. In 1600 a young German mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), visited Tycho and then stayed to help in the mammoth task that had begun. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Some material in the original text is restricted by copyright. Here are links to earlier editions or translations of the same material:

Johannes Kepler, Epitome of Copernican Astronomy (Prometheus Books, 1995).


This is a part of Section VIII: The Development of Modern Science. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.