400-year-old Kepler horoscope turns up in California

March 5, 1999 - SANTA CRUZ, California (Reuters) --

A California researcher perusing an archive drawer of miscellaneous documents has come across a
400-year-old horoscope written by one of history's greatest astronomers, Johannes Kepler. 

Anthony Misch, an astronomer at the Lick Observatory of the University of California-Santa Cruz, said Thursday his discovery of the annotated horoscope in the school's archives in December was a shock. 
"There it was, in a cheesy little frame. It caught my eye. It was quite clearly something much older than other stuff that fills the archive," Misch told Reuters. "It was very, very exciting." 

Kepler, a German who lived from 1571-1630, is famed as the discoverer of the laws of planetary orbital motion and is widely considered to rank with Copernicus and Galileo as one of the most important astronomers of the modern era. 

Misch said that, despite his scientific grounding, Kepler also produced horoscopes as part of his duties as court mathematician for Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II. 

The document discovered in Santa Cruz is an astrological reading for Hans Hannibal Hutter von Hutterhofen, an Austrian nobleman born in 1586. Inscribed in a flowery hand, the horoscope weaves signs and symbols from the Zodiac. The document has been authenticated by the firm of J.A. Stargardt, autograph specialists in Berlin, Misch said -- although he added that no one had yet been able to decipher what Kepler's predictions actually were. "What it means astrologically, I haven't a clue and I don't know whether anyone else would either," Misch said. But he added that Kepler's scientific research on the motion of the planets may have given him a unique astrological perspective for his time. 

"Kepler is one of the figures who helps to establish the modern scientific method, but at the same time he has a foot in the mediaeval world view," Misch said. "He was an exceedingly original thinker. He didn't accept conventional astrology. He had a more mystical view ... The universe was ordered to a plan, and that plan could certainly influence people's lives." 

University officials believe Lick Observatory acquired the document somewhere
in Germany in the late 1800s. It is now housed in the university library's special
collections unit.