WHAT IS THE KEPLER STORY?
The Kepler Story is the first theater piece ever created about an astronomer that’s designed for planetarium domes. This fascinating journey includes the game-changing astronomical discoveries, the losses suffered, obstacles encountered, and the moving epiphanies of this almost-forgotten scientific genius of the modern world.
WHY KEPLER? WHY NOW?
If we are to survive as a species, we must remember what Kepler knew–that the universe is a harmonious and interconnected web of being.
As the Scientific Revolution took hold, we began to perceive the universe as a collection of inanimate, distinct and unrelated elements. This mechanistic worldview affects every aspect of our lives–the way we practice medicine, politics, economics, food cultivation, education, and the way we relate to one another.
Many posit that we are on the brink of a paradigm shift similar to the one that occurred in the 17th Century. By looking at the way this transformation occurred in the past, we cast light on the transformation that is happening in our lifetimes. A transformation that needs to happen if we are to thrive as a species.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PRODUCTION?
Immersive theatre, which takes place in planetariums and other fulldome and 3D environments, creates an extraordinarily transformative effect on both the minds and bodies of audience members. Combining state-of-the-art surround sound and immersive visuals, The Kepler Story brings together contemporary theatre and graphic technology to create an impact beyond the capacity of proscenium-defined art forms as it tackles one of the most important themes of modern culture: the integration of science and spirituality.
Morrison Planetarium is the largest all-digital planetarium in the world. State-of-the-art projector and software technologies allow the planetarium to produce the most accurate and interactive digital Universe ever created.
WHO WAS JOHANNES KEPLER?
Astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1570-1630) is best known for his discovery of the three laws of planetary motion, which once and for all removed the earth from its tyrannical reign as the center of the universe and sent it flying through the heavens. A contemporary of Galileo, Kepler and a handful of colleagues launched the Scientific Revolution, transforming the way humans perceived the nature and structure of the universe and ushered in a paradigm which exists to this day and informs all aspects of our lives.
But what makes Kepler unique was not only his unprecedented capacity to decipher reality but also his unwavering vision of the universe as a harmonic system of interconnected parts. It was from the notion of the universe being a geometric manifestation of the “mind of God” that all of his discoveries arose.
In addition to being an astronomer and a mathematician, Kepler also gained notoriety as an astrologer. And while he disparaged the use of astrology by charlatans, he refused to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” (a phrase he coined) in regard to understanding that planetary bodies affect human souls.
A devout Lutheran living during an era of violent religious conflict, Kepler refused any form of hatred and continued to perceive the universe as harmonious and magnificent despite the barbarity of man.
His life was characterized by ongoing struggles, losses and obstacles including the arrest of his mother for witchcraft. He died impoverished as the emperor refused to give him the salary he was owed and to this day has not gained the fame due him.
Appointed Imperial Mathematician of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601, Kepler is known for the following firsts (from the NASA website on Kepler):
- First to correctly explain planetary motion, thereby, becoming founder of celestial mechanics and the first “natural laws” in the modern sense; being universal, verifiable, precise.
- In his book Astronomia Pars Optica, for which he earned the title of founder of modern optics he was the:
- First to investigate the formation of pictures with a pin hole camera;
- First to explain the process of vision by refraction within the eye;
- First to formulate eyeglass designing for nearsightedness and farsightedness;
- First to explain the use of both eyes for depth perception.
- In his book Dioptrice (a term coined by Kepler and still used today) he was the:
- First to describe: real, virtual, upright and inverted images and magnification;
- First to explain the principles of how a telescope works;
- First to discover and describe the properties of total internal reflection.
- His book Stereometrica Doliorum formed the basis of integral calculus.
- First to explain that the tides are caused by the Moon (Galileo reproved him for this).
- Tried to use stellar parallax caused by the Earth’s orbit to measure the distance to the stars; the same principle as depth perception. Today this branch of research is called astrometry.
- First to suggest that the Sun rotates about its axis in Astronomia Nova
- First to derive the birth year of Christ, that is now universally accepted.
- First to derive logarithms purely based on mathematics, independent of Napier’s tables published in 1614.
- He coined the word “satellite” in his pamphlet Narratio de Observatis a se quatuor Iovis sattelitibus erronibus