Sky's Dark Labyrinth

Free Sky's Dark Labyrinth by Stuart Clark

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Authors: Stuart Clark
‘Father Bellarmine, I know modesty would forbid you from acknowledging this, but you are the Church’s foremost theologian; you are also a Jesuit.’ The old eyes flicked to Pippe and back. ‘You may wish to clarify your thinking in this matter. If a change to Aristotelian ideas is necessary, we cannot be caught unprepared – especially if it comes from a Lutheran camp. We must know if the Scriptures contain any room for reinterpretation.’
    Bellarmine met Clavius’s eyes. There was something fearful in them. ‘I will ponder as you ask but do not be falsely hopeful. The Scriptures are quite clear in this regard: the Earth is at rest in the centre of the Universe.’

Benátky, Bohemia
    There was little free time in Tycho’s household. Kepler was permanently exhausted and his giddy spells were on the increase, too. In addition to the nightly observing sessions, there were meetings to attend, maintenance to perform and, of course, meals to endure. Meanwhile, the Mars data lay unworked like a gemstone waiting to be cut. The need to be with the figures crowded his thoughts. Every day, every meaningless chore around the household served only to increase the craving within him. And all the time, Tycho went about with his usual bombast, convinced that the act of observation was the performance, when Kepler knew it just marked the arrival of the players. The music would only come once the observations had been fashioned into a score.
    Kepler skipped breakfast one morning to set down his terms of work. It was the only way forwards. Once Tycho had agreed, then progress with the data could be made. He had completed the first draft and was just dusting it with blotting powder when Longomontanus returned from the dining hall.
    â€˜I have a favour to ask,’ said Kepler, swivelling from the small desk next to his cot. ‘Will you negotiate on my behalf with Tycho?’
    The senior assistant looked bemused.
    Kepler offered the sheet. ‘I have written out my requirements but I would ask that you not show the actual document to Tycho, simply discuss its contents with him.’
    Longomontanus hesitated but took the piece of paper. He scanned it, sucking air through his teeth. ‘No one has ever demanded so much before.’
    â€˜Because Tycho has never needed anyone as badly before.’
    â€˜I cannot represent you. You need to find another negotiator.’
    â€˜But who else can I trust?’
    Longomontanus placed the piece of paper onto Kepler’s desk. ‘It would be better for me if you forgot that you showed me your demands. I want no part of this negotiation.’
    Kepler sighed. ‘Very well, I will solve Mars and then approach Tycho myself.’
    Â Â Â Â 
    That night, Kepler found it impossible to concentrate on the observations . No matter how hard the stars called for his attention, the Mars data sang more loudly. The only blessing about being on the roof was that the cold air soothed his fever, parting the fog in his mind.
    A quick glance around the sky told him that his illness was probably far from over. Jupiter was shining high in the sky, raining down its influence , clawing at his liver and throwing his humours out of balance. Sitting firmly among the stars of Aries, the alignment conspired to attack his thinking. Worst of all it could last months; Jupiter would continue to creep across the sky. Only with the rise of Leo in the spring, might he hope for some strength to return.
    Camomile – he must find camomile in the kitchen, and sage too. Yes, cooling camomile and purifying sage. A poultice about his forehead should balance him enough to work. Better still, a sage balsam rubbed into his torso.
    It occurred to him that once he had achieved his goal and described the motion of the planets, the next step would be to understand why they moved and then how their influence propagated across space. If he could understand that, perhaps it

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