**By Tim Carr**

Even those people who know nothing about astronomy (and there are plenty of them, it would appear) have heard of Galileo and how he changed our view of

the heavens.

They've probably heard of Copernicus, Newton and his apple and maybe even Kepler, the codifier of the laws of planetary motion. But just how many of them are familiar with names like Ulugh-Beg, Nicholas of Cusa, Olbers, Lemaitre and so many others who made astronomy what it is today? Not too many is the answer.

Of course we live in an age when it is actually considered seriously un-cool to know a lot about the heavens, or any science for that

matter. But if you're reading this then, like me, you're one of those people who actually enjoys learning. These articles tell the story of some of those people

who may not be household names but still made a contribution to our knowledge of the stars. I hope you enjoy them.

- Ulugh-Beg - 1393-1449
- Nicholas of Cusa - 1401-1464
- Rene Descartes - 1596-1650
- Johannes Hevelius - 1576-1649
- Ole Romer - 1644-1710
- James Bradley - 1693-1762

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One of my most compelling intellectual experiences during my undergraduate education was finding out about the derivation of the laws of planetary motion from Newton’s gravitational inverse square law and his “force equals mass times acceleration” principle using a few pages of standard calculus and vector notation.

Nevertheless one cannot conclude here that mankind is now able to dominate the motion of let’s say Jupiter. All one can say is that Newton’s two principles are equivalent to Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

Sure , these laws have been used to send humans to the moon, but also to invent missiles (admirably illustrated by Pynchon in “Gravity’s Rainbow”). Is this not an exemplary example of moral choice of how to apply the laws of nature?

One final note. It should be pointed out that Husserl’s PhD thesis was on the “calculus of variations”, one of the mathematical techniques Einstein needed in his discussion of General Relativity, and that Cassirer wrote a well known book analyzing the very same theory.Both of these thinkers were well versed in the discipline of the exact sciences.

But he arrived at it through a crazy cosmology.

I think it was Kepler who arrived at the correct laws of planetary motion — and was the first to do so — through a hugely long series of algebraic calculations in which he made several arithmetic errors that happened to offset each other.