Mixed Me­dia Ke­pler­fest at St. John’s Col­lege

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St. John’s Col­lege cel­e­brates the work of as­tronomer and math­e­ma­ti­cian Johannes Ke­pler (1571-1630) with a Fri­day, Feb. 17, and Satur­day, Feb. 18, fes­ti­val at the Peter­son Stu­dent Cen­ter. The free pub­lic events mark the pub­li­ca­tion of Wil­liam H. Don­ahue’s up­dated trans­la­tion of Ke­pler’s land­mark Astrono­mia Nova by Green Lion Press. This edi­tion fea­tures new di­a­grams and ta­bles that “will al­low read­ers to ac­tu­ally work through Ke­pler’s cal­cu­la­tions, in keep­ing with St. John’s Col­lege’s ed­u­ca­tional phi­los­o­phy of di­rectly en­gag­ing clas­sic texts,” ac­cord­ing to event ma­te­ri­als.

The Ke­pler­fest of­fers lec­tures by Don­ahue, St. John’s tu­tor emer­i­tus, and by Owen Gin­gerich, an emer­i­tus se­nior as­tronomer at the Smith­so­nian As­tro­phys­i­cal Ob­ser­va­tory and an emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of as­tron­omy and the his­tory of sci­ence at Har­vard Univer­sity; and by Peter Pesic, a St. John’s Col­lege tu­tor emer­i­tus and di­rec­tor of the Sci­ence In­sti­tute at the Santa Fe cam­pus.

Ke­pler “spent his pro­fes­sional life as a pioneer in de­ter­min­ing the dy­nam­ics of the so­lar sys­tem’s be­hav­ior,” ac­cord­ing to Archives of the Uni­verse: A Trea­sury of As­tron­omy’s His­toric Works of Dis­cov­ery by Mar­cia Bar­tu­siak. The man “dis­cov­ered the true shape of a plan­e­tary orbit,” even though he was wrongly pro­ceed­ing from the as­sump­tion that the sun di­rectly con­trolled the move­ment of the plan­ets. His cal­cu­la­tions of the orbit of Mars were pub­lished in Astrono­mia Nova, a densely com­plex tome (574 pages in the new Don­ahue edi­tion) whose full title is New As­tron­omy Based Upon Causes, or Ce­les­tial Physics, Treated by Means of Com­men­taries on the Mo­tion of the Star Mars, From Ob­ser­va­tions of Ty­cho Brahe, Gent. St. John’s is at 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca; call 505-984-6000 for more in­for­ma­tion. — Paul Wei­de­man

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