|Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler at Pohorelec and in bronze|
As the best solution to the Rudolf problem, the Habsburgs considerably reduced his financial support. So the emperor was forced, although a fervent Catholic himself, to pact with the Protestant Bohemian estates. Their quid pro quo was financial support to the court against religious liberties.
|Rudolf's Letter of Majesty in the Czech language|
The document guaranteed the Ultraquists* not only freedom of religion but also the privilege of building churches and establishing schools. Prague University became Protestant.
*receiving the Holy Communion under both Species
Matthias. In the end, Rudolf was forced to abdicate.
Brahe and Kepler met for the first time on February 6, 1600, well before the fraternal quarrel, at Benatek Castle, Brahe's residence, located 50 km outside Prague.
Why do I write all this? Red Baron actually spent five days with a group on a guided tour of Prague, and it’s surroundings. When I first read the announcement of "Tycho Brahe und Johannes Kepler in Prag," I was all excited. This one-time specialized trip was offered by Studiosus, one of the better German tour organizers.
In the following, I will no longer dig into the historical situation on the eve of the Thirty Years War but rather concentrate on the tour. My German-speaking friends may read the full story and history here.
As usual, Studiosus had all well organized. At times we had three guides looking at the overall organization, explaining the implication of Brahe’s and Kepler’s discoveries for the development of astronomy and showing us the beauties of Prague. The organizer was a man from Budapest speaking fluently German*, the astronomer-physicist was from Vienna, while the local guide was a Bohemian lady from Prague.
*His German was too good that clearly indicated that he was foreign (cf. My Fair Lady the story about the Hungarian professor)
|St. Norbert, in his recess, just does not get it.|
|The beautiful Elbe valley|
|Distinguish the famous Bastei bridge|
The train named Berliner originated from Kiel on the Baltic Sea, touched Berlin and Dresden, and had accumulated a delay of only 10 minutes when we reached Prague.
|First impression: Prague's Wenceslas Square by night|
The following morning started with a series of lectures by Dr. Peter Habison on Brahe and Kepler.
|A replica of a Brahe quadrant at Benatec Castle|
Brahe actually observed all his astronomical data, including those on the movement of planets with the naked eye using well-adjusted sextants and quadrants.
|Commemorative plaque for Smetana above the entry to Benatec Castle|
Back to our protagonists. Enter Kepler. He needed Brahe’s precisely measured data badly for the exact calculation of the Mars planetary orbit. Initially, Brahe refused to give those away. You will find the full dramatic interhuman story between those two giants of science on Wikipedia.
Eventually, Kepler got the data following Brahe's death in 1601. He dedicated the publication to Emperor Rudolf.
In 1609 Kepler finally had his Astronomia Nova published in which he, based on Brahe's precise observation data, calculated the slightly elliptical orbit of the planet Mars precisely. In his book, Kepler also formulated two of his laws as there are:
1. Planets move in elliptical orbits with the Sun at one focus.
2. The speed of the planet changes at each moment so that the time between two positions is always proportional to the area swept over on the orbit between these positions.
|Only a few contemporary "scientists" understood and |
appreciated Kepler's Astronomia Nova (©P. Habison)
In the following, I would like to show you some of my photos taken during our guided tours.
A visit to the castle
|Approaching St. Vitus cathedral at the castle ground|
|A look into the choir that was still finished in the Middle Ages|
|St. John of Nepomuk's drama in three acts shown on one painting in the St Vitus Cathedral:|
1. Nepomuk hears the Queen's confession.
2. King Wenceslaus demands Nepomuk to divulge the secrets of the queen's confession.
3. Nepomuk refuses, is thrown from Charles Bridge, and drowns in the Moldavia river.
|Crowds of tourists passing the great hall at the castle |
on their way to and from the site of the 1618 defenestration.
|Recovering with an Apfelstrudel (the best!) at the Castle Café|
|Changing of the guards at the castle|
|View from the castle unto the roofs of Prague. |
Note in the back the Palais Lobkowicz, site of the German embassy.
|Last view on the castle from Wallenstein's Gardens.|
|An original vestige of Prague's University founded in 1348|
|Today's entry to the Universitas Carolina|
|A traffic light at Charles Bridge channeling the crowds of tourists|
Muzeum Speculum Alchemiae
|A problem everywhere: No drinks, no noise?|
Library of the Strahov Monastery
|"Science is difficult but fertile."|
|The interior is absolutely impressive ...|
|... and the view down onto the Golden City too.|
|Passing the Loreto Church ...|
|...discovering German street names ...|
|... and arriving at Tycho Brahe's house in the Castle Quarter, "The Golden Griffin."|
Dr. Peter Habison gave an outdoor lecture.
|The National Library of the Czech Republic|
|Breathtaking views from the astronomical tower (see above) on|
Baroque St. Nicolas Church, Tyn's Church, and the Powder Tower
|To the west, the Hradčany hill with castle and St. Vitus Church.|
Pinkas Synagogue, Old-New Synagogue. and Old Cemetary
|On the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue are written the names of all the Czech Jews|
who perished in the Holocaust.
|The Thora shrine at the Pinkas Synagogue is flanked |
with the names of concentration camps
|The Old Jewish Cemetary ...|
|... of the 15th century.|
|The oldest tombstone of Avigdor Kara from 1439|
|Rabbi Loew's tombstone of 1609|
|Interior of the Old New Synagogue where Rabbi Loew taught.|
|Rabbi Loew's seat in front of the Thora shrine, untouched.|