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Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

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Tycho Brahe the Great Dane was created by Kerry Stargazer

I’ve written a short biographical account of the live of Tycho Brahe for the winter edition of the Kerry Astronomy Club’s magazine, hope you find it interesting?

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a Danish astronomer who was best known for making detail observations of planetary and star positions to unprecedented levels accuracy using pre-telescopic instruments.

Born into a Danish noble family, his father at one time was appointed governor of Helsingborg (now part of Sweden). Tycho enjoyed all the privileges of his father’s position and was sent to the finest schools through out Europe. It was at one of theses schools that Tycho interest in astronomy began when a total solar eclipse occurred on August 21, 1560, particularly the fact that it had been predicted so impressed him that he began to make his own studies of astronomy helped by some of his professors.

He purchased an ephemeris and books such as Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera, Apianus's Cosmographia seu descriptio totius orbis and Regiomontanus's De triangulis omnimodis.Tycho realised from studying these books that none of the methods used and measurements taken agreed with each other, so he wrote in his dairy “what was needed was a long term project with the aim of mapping the heavens conducted from a single location over a period of several years.” Tycho was just 17 years old when wrote this.

While a student, Tycho lost part of his nose in a duel with a fellow Danish nobleman called Parsbjerg. This occurred in the Christmas of 1566, while he was studying at the University of Rostock in Germany after a fair amount of drink was consumed at a dance being hosted by one of his professors, he quarreled with Parsbjerg. The subsequent duel (in the dark) resulted in Tycho losing the bridge of his nose. For the rest of his life, he was said to have worn a replacement made of silver and gold blended into a flesh tone, and used an adhesive balm to keep it attached.

In Augusts 1563, Tycho had observed a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, noticing that the Copernican tables were grossly in error by some several days in predicting the event. He then decided to devote the rest of his life to improving planetary and stellar positions. He returned to Denmark in 1570 and constructed a private observatory to carry out his task of charting the heavens. In 1571 Tycho discovered a supernova in the constellation of Cassiopeia which so impressed the King that he gave him his own island and constructed two more observatories.

Over the next 20 years Tycho methodically carried out his task with the aid of one of his sisters, up to that time the most accurate observations were of the order of 15’, Tycho improved this to 30”. He was also the first to take atmospheric refraction into account in correcting observed planetary and stellar positions.

Tycho made the first truly scientific studies of comets, observing the position magnitude, colour and orientation of the tail of the comet of 1577.These observations led him to conclude that the comets orbit which he determined must have a elongated shape, lay beyond the Moon, thus beginning the end of the Aristotelian notion that planets were contained within solid crystalline spheres through which a body like a comet could not pass.

Tycho documented the apparent movement of the sun which allowed him to determine the length of year to within 1 second, forcing ten days to be dropped from the Julian calendar in 1582 he also measured Earth's axial tilt as 23 degrees and 31.5 minutes, which he claimed to be more accurate than Copernicus by 3.5 minutes.

Tycho was not a Copernican, but created a Tychonian System in which the planets revolve around the Sun, and the Sun and Moon in turn revolving around a fixed Earth. This model still fitted the church’s view that Earth was still the centre and was more widely accepted by astronomers until the mid 17th century.

On a more personal level Tycho often held large social gatherings in his castle, as he was a member of the nobility. He was said to own one percent of the entire wealth of Denmark at one point in the 1580s. He also kept a dwarf named Jepp (who Tycho believed was clairvoyant) as a court jester who sat under the table during dinner.
Tycho died on October 24, 1601, several days after straining his bladder during such a banquet. It had been said, that to leave the banquet before it concluded would be the height of bad manners, and so he remained. His bladder, stretched to its limit, exploded. He died after eleven agonizing days.
However, recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but most likely from mercury poisoning: toxic levels of it have been found in his hair and hair-roots. Tycho may have poisoned himself unintentionally by imbibing some mercury-containing medicine. Some have even speculated that Tycho may have been murdered, possibly by Kepler, (who was frustrated that Tycho was slow in sharing his life’s work) though there is no solid evidence for this.
Chairman of Kerry Astronomy Club.
My Kung-Fu 's the best (Melvin Frohike X-Files)
15 years 11 months ago #36516

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Replied by pmgisme on topic Re: Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

You can clearly see Tycho's false nose in this portrait.

home.att.net/~numericana/arms/brahe.htm

Also notice the names of his relatives Rosenkrantz and Gyldensterne.

They appear in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Hamlet was set in Elsinore Castle in Denmark which overlooks Tycho's island.

In the opening scene of Hamlet there is an Astronomical reference:

"Last night of all when yon same star that's westward from the Pole...."

If shouted loudly enough (to this day) those words can be heard on Tycho's Ven.
(Hveen).

Peter.
15 years 11 months ago #36534

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Replied by Keith g on topic Re:

Good write-up, it's good to read an insight on how astronomy was all that long time ago, at least he saw what none of us today saw, that of course his supernova in 1572!

Keith..
If a telescope can fit into your backyard it's too small. If you can't move it, it's too big." -- John Dobson
15 years 11 months ago #36547

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Replied by SeanOSullivan on topic Re: Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

Great write up! they were made of tougher stuff in those days, out for a sword fight and while they were outside a couple of observations :lol:
Seriously though It also highlights that it was only the rich of that time who could invest there time in the sciences, if not themselves, it was their patronage of the sciences that allowed these advances. Look at us now, when nearly all of us can take part in this wonderful hobby!
15 years 11 months ago #36594

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Replied by ISAW on topic Re: Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a Danish astronomer who was best known for making detail observations of planetary and star positions to unprecedented levels accuracy using pre-telescopic instruments.


There was an Iranian/Russian who came close. I get back to you on that.

Tycho made the first truly scientific studies of comets, observing the position magnitude, colour and orientation of the tail of the comet of 1577.These observations led him to conclude that the comets orbit which he determined must have a elongated shape, lay beyond the Moon, thus beginning the end of the Aristotelian notion that planets were contained within solid crystalline spheres through which a body like a comet could not pass.


AFAIK he did this on the basis of Parallax measurement. By measuring the comet over time he showed by Parallex that the comet moved towards and away from the Earth. the path therefore path "crashed through" the unchanging and perfect crystal spheres! The main piece which challenged the Peripathetic viewpoint was in proving by parallax that the comet was more distant than the Moon. Why was this?

The point is that natural philosophy and cosmology were considered as distinct entities. What do I mean by that.

Well, in those times it was thought that the Earth was made of four elements which all had there place in the Universe. First there was Earth then Water, Air and Fire. Each moved to its natural place. So the "Earth" was considered to be Earth. If you dropped a solid thing (assumed to be made of the element "Earth") it moved towards the Sphere of Earth. over the Eathh was Water and rivers flowed to that. Air moved up through water to its sphere and fire rose through air and up to its natural place. all these (and human beings) were changable. Because comets changed they were of the "sphere of fire". Clever enough philosophy. Based on sound reasoning.

But when you got to the Moon things in the Cosmos were eternally unchanging! There was a seperate set of laws there! It could easily bee seen that things moved without a push and never stopped moving unlike on Earth were they did! This is how things like UNIVERSAL gravitation was so Revolutionary! It required HUGE thinking outside the box and a list of giants on whose shoulders Newton sat. It was claiming that the laws of Nature were the same everywhere - isotropism, one of the curent tenets of cosmology!


Tycho was showing that things CHANGED in the heavens! He was challenging a philosophy of Science but he was using EMPIRICISM not just philosophical argument to do so!

Tycho documented the apparent movement of the sun which allowed him to determine the length of year to within 1 second, forcing ten days to be dropped from the Julian calendar in 1582


Some countries were slow to adopt this eg. England

Tycho was not a Copernican, but created a Tychonian System in which the planets revolve around the Sun, and the Sun and Moon in turn revolving around a fixed Earth. This model still fitted the church’s view that Earth was still the centre and was more widely accepted by astronomers until the mid 17th century.


Yes which dismisses the view that the Church were "backward" in their view of Galileo!


Tycho died on October 24, 1601, several days after straining his bladder during such a banquet. It had been said, that to leave the banquet before it concluded would be the height of bad manners, and so he remained. His bladder, stretched to its limit, exploded. He died after eleven agonizing days.


I didnt think it was eleven days! I think he was then in Prague and the Astronomer for the Holy Roman Emperor. About 1600/1601??

Some have even speculated that Tycho may have been murdered, possibly by Kepler, (who was frustrated that Tycho was slow in sharing his life’s work) though there is no solid evidence for this.


I doubt it. Kepler was a religious Zealot.

Great stuff! Some more comments:

The most picturesque figure in the history of astronomy is
undoubtedly that of the famous old Danish astronomer
...
The history of Tycho Brahe has been admirably told by Dr. Dreyer, the
accomplished astronomer who now directs the observatory at Armagh,
though himself a countryman of Tycho. Every student of the career of
the great Dane must necessarily look on Dr. Dreyer's work as the
chief authority on the subject.


I think it is pronounced like TUCO BRA HAY
His Uraniborg observatory was on Ven (an Island) and the ruins were I think visited by Picard.
articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1908Ob...70L/0000171.000.html
see bottom page 170-171

Under the observatory/castle he had dungeons in which he used to imprision his local serfs and ply them for a few bob rent when he was short of shillings!
14 years 11 months ago #55721

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Replied by JohnONeill on topic Re: Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

Hi,

I was talking to someone from Denmark recently. She said Tycho Brahe is pronounced as:

TU-CO BRA

and "TU" is short - it is not pronounced as "CHEW" (remember those old Sky at Nights),

John
14 years 10 months ago #58153

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Replied by Dread on topic Re: Tycho Brahe the Great Dane

I really enjoyed this very interesting article and the comments but I have to take issue with the title

Tycho Brahe the Great Dane


What about some of the other great Danes .e.g. Peter Schmeichel and Scooby Doo :!:
Down with vwls.

Declan
Carl Zeiss Jena 10x50, Bresser Messier R102
14 years 10 months ago #58233

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