Somnium (Kepler)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Somnium (Latin for The Dream) is a fantasy written between 1620 and 1630, in Latin, by Johannes Kepler. In the narrative, a student of Tycho Brahe is transported to the Moon by occult forces. It presents a detailed imaginative description of how the earth might look when viewed from the moon, and is considered the first serious scientific treatise on lunar astronomy. Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov have referred to it as the first work of science fiction.

Somnium began as a student dissertation in which Kepler defended the Copernican doctrine of the motion of the Earth, suggesting that an observer on the Moon would find the planet's movements as clearly visible as the Moon's activity is to the Earth's inhabitants. Nearly 20 years later, Kepler added the dream framework, and after another decade, he drafted a series of explanatory notes reflecting upon his turbulent career and the stages of his intellectual development. The book was edited by his heirs, including Jacob Bartsch, after Kepler's death in 1630. It was published posthumously in 1634 by his son, Ludwig Kepler.

The story is the tale of Duracotus, who was the son of an Icelandic witch named Fiolxhilda. During his youth she banished Duracotus to Denmark for five years. Upon his return, she decided to share some of her secrets with him. She explained that her instructor had been a demon who dwelt on the Moon. During a Solar Eclipse, the lunar demons were able to travel between the Earth and the Moon via a bridge of darkness. The son decided he wanted to make this journey, and so he was transported to the Moon by demons.

To ease his journey he was given a drowsing draught and moist sponges to hold under his nose. He was carried to the point of neutral gravity between the Earth and Moon, then allowed to drift down to the lunar surface. Thus the author understood some of the effects of gravity and the need for environmental protection above the atmosphere.

Fresh Aire V by the Mannheim Steamroller is a concept album based on the work.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Somnium (Kepler)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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