Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

For eight years, Kepler sought unceasingly, with unremitting toil, to solve the law of planetary motion. During those years, he tried nineteen different hypotheses. One after another of these he was compelled to lay aside as not conforming to the motion of the planets. His courage and patience transfigured failure into success.

When, after days of study and nights of observation, the months showed a theory untenable, he turned from it without regret, knowing that there was one less theory to try. At last, he was compelled to give up every theory of the circle as the explanation of orbital motion. He then chose the next to the circle in simplicity, the ellipse. Here he found all the conditions met.

The problem at last was solved, and he cried,

“O almighty God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee!”

When he had established his second and third laws, and written his exposition of them, he said:

“My book is written to be read either now or by posterity; I care not which. It may well wait a century for a reader, since God has waited six thousand years for an observer.”

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