On the road: Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, Days 5-6

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, October 27, 2011

Astronomy’s intrepid group of travelers continues to make its way across central Europe, having enjoyed parts of Germany before spending two fantastic days and three nights in Prague. We saw a large number of astronomical sights and important historical places, and, amazingly, had the expert tour guide advice of Professor Martin Scholtz of the Charles University Astronomy Department and also that of Vaclav Spicka, a theoretical physicist at the Institute for Physics in Prague. They were well-informed, friendly, and helpful, and they opened doors to us not normally available to the public. For example, we climbed into the building that houses the inner workings of the most famous element of Prague’s Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock that was constructed in 1410. This amazing piece of engineering was old even when Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, who walked these streets regularly, looked up at the mechanism!

We posed before the famous statue of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler erected on the site where each lived for a time. Photo shot October 26, 2011 by David J. Eicher.
We saw numerous haunts of famous scientists in the city, including Kepler’s house, the famous statue of Kepler and Tycho that stands on a property where each lived at different times, and the Charles University lecture hall where Christian Doppler first announced the famous effect he had discovered regarding wavelengths of light. It was an incredible treat to see, within the Church of Our Lady before Týn, the tomb of Tycho Brahe, which had just been opened earlier this year in order to examine the remains of the great astronomer, for only the second time in history. (And no, I don’t buy the speculation that his acute death came from being poisoned by his friend Kepler.)

Prague is an incredible and beautiful city. We saw the Klementinium, where the famous Astronomical Tower still stands, the Kepler Museum (recently opened), and much more. Melita Thorpe of MWT Associates, Astronomy’s tour partner, deserves rich credit for assembling a tour that is superior to any of the others I’ve seen.

This morning, we made the extensive journey to Vienna, Austria, another town rich in scientific history. I’ll report on our two days in Vienna tomorrow. Thereafter, we head to Munich and the world’s largest mineral, gem, and meteorite show.

To see pictures from my trip so far, check out the Astronomy.com Trips and Tours page.

Related blogs
On the road:
Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic
Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, Days 1-4

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