Johannes Kepler is one of my favorite scientists. I'm writing a story right now wherein one of the characters is named John Kepler, and even though the character's not entirely based on the original J.K., I've been having fun researching biographical information to work in here and there. So, since it's March, here's a list:
Some Interesting Stuff About Johannes Kepler, Plus Random Facts You May Find Useful
1. He was born on December 27th, the feast day of St. John the Apostle.
1a. In Dante's Paradiso, St. John explains to Dante that he (St. J to the A, that is), like all the saints, ascended into heaven in his spiritual form. The only two to ever ascend corporeally (that is, body and soul together), John reveals, were Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
2. In the early 1600s, Johannes Kepler wrote a manuscript that was later published under the title Somnium, or The Dream. In it, he explored what astronomical observations would be like from another planet, hypothesizing that, from the moon, one could observe the movements of the earth in the same manner as the Earth's inhabitants can track the moon's.
2a. Somnium is sometimes described as the first work of science fiction. It tells the story of a journey to the moon, accomplished after the mother of the narrator consults a demon and learns the secret of space travel. It also incorporates autobiographical elements from Kepler's own life, such as his apprenticeship with Tycho Brahe.
2b. Some years later, Kepler's mother was put on trial for witchcraft, perhaps in part due to the events described in Somnium. After successfully defending her, Kepler added 223 footnotes to the story (which go on several pages longer than the story itself), which explain the story's allegorical and scientific elements. He also made the trip to the moon take place inside a dream.