In the footsteps of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in Prague

From 21-26.9.2021 an Ö1 science trip took place again. With a year’s delay, it took us to Prague, in the footsteps of the two great astronomers Tycho de Brahe and Johannes Kepler. In almost no other city can the change from the geocentric to the heliocentric view of the world be traced as clearly as in Prague. Brahe and Kepler stand symbolically for this change, for the recognition of a new world view and the endless efforts that were connected with it.

Our historical journey through time began in the imperial Prague of Rudolf II: Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the old royal palace and the Golden Street led us along the Hradčany. The journey of discovery continued to the Premonstratensian monastery of Strahov, the astronomical tower of the Clementinum and the Speculum Alchemiae in search of the goldsmiths.

A highlight of our search for clues was the visit of the astronomical clock at the Old Town Square. A masterpiece of Gothic science and technology, it has fascinated people for centuries. Even Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler passed by it and surely gave it a glance or two.

Every day at the top of the hour between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. it gets crowded at the southern wall of the Old Town Hall, then hundreds of spectators crowd around and look spellbound at the tower of the old town hall. We, on the other hand, were allowed to climb through the small door under the clock into the clockwork and discover the secrets of this masterpiece of Gothic clockmaking.

Finally, we went to Benátky nad Jizerou at the gates of Prague. In the castle of Benatek Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe met for the first time in 1600. A small museum commemorates this meeting of the great astronomers. In addition to visiting the castle, we were able to visit the Benatek Public Observatory and, in wonderful weather, also observe the sun through the observatory’s new telescopes. Yes, the sun even had a few spots to offer!

The participants of the illustrious Ö1 travel group followed the astronomical as well as historical explanations of Peter and Jindra with great interest and endurance. However, as study trips are known to be exhausting, the culinary supply in the numerous restaurants in and around Prague could not be missed. We would like to thank Windrose and Ursula Grafeneder for their excellent overall organization and choice of restaurants, and we look forward to the next Ö1 science trip, which will take us to Tenerife in June 2022.