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IYA Kepler

2009, The International Year of Astronomy (IYA) celebrates and commemorates not only Galileo Galilei's ground breaking work in telescopic observational astronomy, but also the year that Johannes Kepler's paradigm-setting work, Astronomia Nova, was published.

You can find out about IYA at
the following websites:


Kepler education projects that support IYA:



The AstroCappella song "Shoulders of Giants" written and arranged by Padi Boyd, performed by The Chromatics, and produced by the Johannes Kepler Project specifically for the International Year of Astronomy is freely available for use in IYA projects and events, provided that the appropriate credits be given to the composer (Padi Boyd), the performers (The Chromatics/AstroCappella), and the Johannes Kepler Project. (use of the song as part of a commercial project will require a copyright release from the Project.)

Listen also to the AstroCappella song Dance of the Planets - about extrasolar planets, by The Chromatics

2009 Nov 19. Opera about Kepler by Philip Glass. Glass Looks to the Heavens, Again. By ALLAN KOZINN, New York Times. Excerpt: Philip Glass ... earliest operas... were about historical figures who changed the way their societies thought: Einstein, in “Einstein on the Beach”; Gandhi, in “Satyagraha”; and the monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, Akhnaten, in the opera that bears his name. ...In recent years he has returned to that theme, with a twist. In “Galileo Galilei,” his 18th opera, from 2001, he used scenes from the life of the astronomer and mathematician to examine the fraught relationship between science and religion.
Mr. Glass’s 23rd opera, “Kepler,” arrived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday evening, and its essence is strikingly familiar: he uses scenes from the life of another astronomer and mathematician — a contemporary of Galileo, each having straddled the 16th and 17th centuries — to examine again the relationship between science and religion. The issues are less fraught this time, but still weighty and tangled.
In both works the scientists expound on the theories that made them famous, and that can make for some dry moments in the opera house. .. when he explains the scientific method (“First, we pose our hypothesis”) and his theories of how the planets’ orbits are shaped, chills do not run up your spine.
...The most dramatic moment in “Kepler,” which has a libretto by Martina Winkel drawn largely from Kepler’s writings, is his accounting of his own character flaws, and how he made enemies of most of his colleagues.
...As Kepler, Martin Achrainer, wore a patchwork leather coat and walked around the stage looking thoughtful, troubled or dour.
Maybe the biggest problem with “Kepler” is that it is called an opera. As an opera, it is exceedingly nondramatic. But as an oratorio, it works brilliantly. Oratorios allow for the presentation of ideas without the expectation of action. And the ideas here — not least, Kepler’s almost continuous struggle to show that science and religion are separate, noncompeting realms, and that his discoveries are not a disavowal of God — are worth exploring. They are even timely, given the increasingly corrosive debates about evolution and creationism. At one point Kepler argues that the church should treat literalist readings of the biblical creation story as a form of heretical abuse....

See also article in Wall Street Journal.


Discovery Guides IYA 2009
Discovery Guides about monthly featured celestial object, how to find it and hands-on activities about it --||-- from Night Sky Network & Astronomical Society of the pacific


365 Days Of Astronomy podcasts every day of the year.


The Kepler-Gesellschaft is preparing an extensive programme in
cooperation with the Universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart entitled:

400 Years of Modern Astronomy

1609: Kepler's "Astronomia Nova" and
Galilei's first use of the telescope to study the skies

This event will include several exhibitions, a colloquium, and a lecture series. For details, see event poster (PDF, 8.57 MB)

Conference in Prague in Aug 2009:

International Conference
(400th anniversary of the publication of Kepler’s Astronomia Nova)

conference logo
See Conference Invitation (PDF, 403 KB) and registration (PDF, 212 KB) and website.

Excerpt from invitation:

Johannes Kepler came to Prague as mathematician influenced by Copernicus’ theory and participated in Tycho Brahe’s group in the treatment of Brahe’s very precise measurements of Mars orbit. The tolerant social environment in Rudolfine Prague enabled him to carry out intensely his scientific activities in ideologically broken Europe at the beginning of the 17th century. In the years 1600 – 1609, Kepler worked in Prague on his magnum opus – Astronomia Nova. At the end of 1608, The Emperor provided his last financial support and in the spring of 1609 the Kepler’s tract was published and prepared for distribution at the Frankfurt spring book fair. The work comprised derivation and formulation of the first two laws of planetary motion in the Solar System. Kepler’s work Harmonices Mundi, comprising his third law, was published in Linz ten years later.

Kepler’s results completed the Copernicus’ revolution in astronomy, they made fundamentals of astronomy more precise and became starting point of a new development phase of human knowledge concerning whole range of disciplines, as well as the philosophical view of the world.

Formulation of Kepler’s laws meant a final breakthrough into the scholastic Aristotelian physics and philosophy. They form not only sources of modern astronomy but also impulses of development of mechanics and its mathematical apparatus. Analytic geometry, differential and integral calculi found here their stimuli, leading eventually to theoretical solution of various technical problems. It was the time of Kepler’s contemporaries – Galileo, Bruno, Brahe, Hagecius – but also of those who were inspired by Kepler’s results – Descartes, Fermat, Desargues, Pascal, Torricelli, Harvey, Newton, Bernoullis, Huygens, Bacon, and many others....

Conference fits well into the project of the International Year of Astronomy, represents contribution of the Czech scientific community and follows the International Astronomical Congress, taking place in Rio de Janeiro in the first half of August 2009. Phenomenon of the scientific revolution of the 17th century still stays in the centre of attention of historians of science and philosophers. The Conference is aimed to gather the latest knowledge on scientific, cultural and social conditions of the origin of Kepler’s laws and on the influence of this development stage of science on further development of the scientific and philosophical thinking.

Tycho Brahe Monument

Brahe-Kepler monument outside Kepler Gymnasium (high school) in Prague

Photo by David Koch



Title page from
Astronomia Nova,
Strahov Monestery, Prague


Photo by David Koch

Astronomia Nova title page thumbnail