Yesterday, as we were ambling our way through Prague on a lovely late Summer evening, Jousef Moural, pointed me to a church barely visible behind scaffolding, the Italian Chapel of the Assumption of Our Lady. We stopped a few doors up in front of a plaque on Karlova street commemorating that Kepler lived there during his stay (1600-1612). On the authority of the late, great Renaissance scholar and historian of astronomy, Zdenek Horsky, he told me the following anecdote. I have not found it elsewhere on the internet, so I thought it worth sharing.
The chapel, which was completed just before Kepler arrived in Prague, has a dome. For nearly a decade Kepler passed by there as he was struggling with Tycho 's data before he recognized that the orbits were ellipses--something that does not just jump out of you from the Mars data. (Mars's orbit really is very close to a circle.) The dome and the floor plan have, you guessed it, are elliptical, then an innovative architecture.
I'd like to think that sometimes when we are contemplating the starry heavens above, our beautiful even devote artifices can if not guide then inspire inquiry, too.