Maestlin, Michael (1550–1631)

Michael Maestlin

Michael Maestlin was a German astronomer and professor of mathematics at Tübingen who taught and corresponded with Johannes Kepler. Although he lectured generally using the Ptolemaic system, he chose also to teach to a select group of students, including Kepler, about the new Copernican system in which Earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun. He thus played an important role in Kepler's adoption of the heliocentric viewpoint.


Maestlin studied at the University of Tübingen, where he earned a degree in theology. He also studied mathematics and astronomy, which would become his true passion. In 1576, he became a professor of mathematics at Tübingen, where he would spend the rest of his career.


Maestlin was a skilled astronomer and made several important observations during his career. One of his most significant contributions was his work on the astronomical tables of Erasmus Reinhold. These tables were used to predict the positions of the planets and stars, and Maestlin helped to improve their accuracy.


Maestlin taught the heliocentricmodel to his students, including Johannes Kepler, who would later use it to develop his laws of planetary motion. Kepler later said that Maestlin was the person who firs t introduced him to the Copernican system, and that he had a profound impact on his thinking.


In addition to his work in astronomy, Maestlin also made important contributions to mathematics. He was one of the first mathematicians to work with logarithms and also worked on the theory of trigonometric functions.


Maestlin was also a devout Christian, and he believed that the study of astronomy was a way to better understand God's creation. He saw no conflict between his scientific work and his religious beliefs, and encouraged his students to pursue both science and faith.