Artist Catalog

Tycho Brahe

Born: December 14 1546
Born in: Knutstorp Castle, Scania, Denmark, Denmark–Norway
(now Sweden)

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe (), born Tyge Ottesen Brahe (Danish: [ˈtyːə ˈʌdəsn̩ ˈbʁɑː]; 14 December 1546 – 24 October 1601), was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was born in the then Danish peninsula of Scania. Well known in his lifetime as an astronomer, astrologer and alchemist, he has been described as "the first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." His observations were some five times more accurate than the best available observations at the time.

An heir to several of Denmark's principal noble families, he received a comprehensive education. He took an interest in astronomy and in the creation of more accurate instruments of measurement. As an astronomer, Tycho worked to combine what he saw as the geometrical benefits of the Copernican system with the philosophical benefits of the Ptolemaic system into his own model of the universe, the Tychonic system. His system correctly saw the Moon as orbiting Earth, and the planets as orbiting the Sun, but erroneously considered the Sun to be orbiting the Earth. Furthermore, he was the last of the major naked eye astronomers, working without telescopes for his observations. In his De nova stella (On the New Star) of 1573, he refuted the Aristotelian belief in an unchanging celestial realm. His precise measurements indicated that "new stars" (stellae novae, now known as supernovae), in particular that of 1572, lacked the parallax expected in sublunar phenomena and were therefore not tailless comets in the atmosphere as previously believed but were above the atmosphere and beyond the moon. Using similar measurements he showed that comets were also not atmospheric phenomena, as previously thought, and must pass through the supposedly immutable celestial spheres.

King Frederick II granted Tycho an estate on the island of Hven and the funding to build Uraniborg, an early research institute, where he built large astronomical instruments and took many careful measurements, and later Stjerneborg, underground, when he discovered that his instruments in Uraniborg were not sufficiently steady. On the island (where he behaved autocratically toward the residents) he founded manufactories, such as a paper mill, to provide material for printing his results. After disagreements with the new Danish king, Christian IV, in 1597, he went into exile, and was invited by the Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II to Prague, where he became the official imperial astronomer. He built an observatory at Benátky nad Jizerou. There, from 1600 until his death in 1601, he was assisted by Johannes Kepler, who later used Tycho's astronomical data to develop his three laws of planetary motion.

Tycho's body has been exhumed twice, in 1901 and 2010, to examine the circumstances of his death and to identify the material from which his artificial nose was made. The conclusion was that his death was likely caused by a burst bladder, and not by poisoning as had been suggested, and that the artificial nose was more likely made of brass than silver or gold, as some had believed in his time.