Mixed Media Keplerfest at St. John’s College
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