The Dream of Kepler: a retrospective work on the human side of the scientist


Lovisetti, Luisa


The compendium Epitome astronomiae copernicanae, published between 1618 and 1621, is considered the most complete and influential work of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), introducing the reader to the heliocentric theory and the whole astronomical work of its author. However, another much less known masterpiece exists deserving comparable attention: the Somnium, seu opus posthumum de astronomia lunari (published posthumously, in 1634), depicting Kepler not only as a scientist but also as a man. It is the short tale of a dream, which troubled drafting lasted for almost forty years, describing the journey to the Moon made by a fictional young man, whose life shows several affinities with Kepler’s one. Within its pages and its rich apparatus of explanatory notes, added by Kepler himself, several references to the major works and the life of the astronomer can immediately be found. The Somnium is thus a journey through Kepler’s theories, providing the reader with an accurate portrait of an exceptionally modern character (defender of both the Copernican model and the central role of science) but still tied to the past (in his Platonic and Pythagorean ideas). Thanks to the Somnium is possible to draw the fundamental steps in Kepler’s life and in his work, surely deserving a special place in the history of astronomy.

Synthetic bibliography
[1] Kepler, Johannes. (1596) Prodromus dissertationum cosmographicarum, continens mysterium cosmographicum […]. Tübingen, Georg Gruppenbach.
[2] Kepler, Johannes. (1604) Ad vitellionem paralipomena, quibus astronomiae pars optica traditur […]. Frankfurt, Claudium Marnium & Ioannes Aubrium
[3] Kepler, Johannes. (1609) Astronomia nova aitiologetos, seu Physica coelestis, tradita commentariis de motibus stellae Martis […]. Prague.
[4] Kepler, Johannes. (1619) Harmonices Mundi. Frankfurt, Godofredo Tampachio & Johannes Plancus.
[5] Kepler, Johannes. (1618-1621) Epitome astronomiae copernicanae. Linz, Johannes Plancus.
[6] Kepler, Johannes. (1634) Somnium, seu opus posthumum de astronomia lunari. Frankfurt, Sagan typography.

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Lovisetti, Luisa

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