Historical Astronomers in Context

Historical Figures of Astronomy

Astronomer Birth Date Death Date
Nicholas Copernicus 19 February 1473 24 May 1543
Galileo Galilei 15 February 1564 8 January 1642
Johannes Kepler December 27, 1571 November 15, 1630
Isaac Newton 4 January 1643 31 March 1727
Tycho Brahe 14 December 1546 24 October 1601

Note: Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler lived at the same time for 59 years (1571-1630). Besides this, no other two figures lived at the same time.

Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler was born in December of 1571 and dies in November of 1630. Kepler was a very important figure in the scientific revolution in the 17th century. He made key contributions to the study of astronomy, specifically concerning planetary motion. Throughout his studies and published works, he developed his 3 laws of planetary motion. These were rejected at first by other astronomers, but they ended up being the foundation for the universal gravitation theory developed by Newton. The most influential works that impacted this theory are Astronomia novaHarmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.

Key Historical Events (1571-1630)

                During Kepler’s time, many key world events occurred. Below are a couple that are commonly known and provide perspective about the times.

                In 1595, Shakespeare was busy developing his works. He created most of his works between 1589 and 1613. Many of his pieces, specifically his tragedies, became very famous around the world. They’ve consistently been an essential part of education since their creation, and they were an important part of the development of the arts at the time.

In 1620, the Puritans landed in Massachusetts. This colony is the reason for Thanksgiving in America, and they played many roles in political ventures with the Native American tribes in the area. It did not exist for very long because it ended up merging with another colony and becoming a part of the colonization of the states.

Key Historical Figure

                Oliver Cromwell was born in 1599 and died in 1658, and the first 40 years of his life are actually quite unknown. Later in his life, though, Cromwell became an English political and military leader. He is known as a very controversial figure in history, as some believed him to be a dictator and others believed him to be a hero. He was a very large influence on Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, though it depends on who you ask if it was positive or negative.


                Looking at the historical events that occurred during Kepler’s time, it made it easier to conceptualize when the development of astronomical theories took place. For example, it was very interesting to realize that Kepler had developed his theories on planetary motion around the same time that colonization of America was occurring. This contrast of scientific development in one place and societal development in another place is really cool to think about. It’s also thought provoking to compare the development of the arts with the development of science, as Shakespeare was creating his works at this time. It seems as though this era in general contained a lot of revolutionary events around the world.


En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Galileo Galilei. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Nicolaus Copernicus. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Oliver Cromwell. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cromwell [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Plymouth Colony. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Colony [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Tycho Brahe. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tycho_Brahe [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). William Shakespeare. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].


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