Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe bigraphy, stories - Danish astronomer

Tycho Brahe : biography

14 December 1546 – 24 October 1601

Monument of Tycho Brahe and [[Johannes Kepler in Prague]]

Tycho Brahe (14 December 154624 October 1601), born Tyge Ottesen Brahe,His Danish name "Tyge Ottesen Brahe" is pronounced in Modern Standard Danish as . He adopted the Latinized name "Tycho Brahe" (sometimes written Tÿcho) at around age fifteen. The name Tycho comes from Tyche (Τύχη, meaning "luck" in Greek, Roman equivalent: Fortuna), a tutelary deity of fortune and prosperity of ancient Greek city cults. This is pronounced in Danish and or in English. He is now generally referred to as "Tycho," as was common in Scandinavia in his time, rather than by his surname "Brahe." (A spurious form of his name, Tycho de Brahe, only appeared much later.)Alena Šolcová: From Tycho Brahe to incorrect Tycho de Brahe…, Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Mathematica et Physica 46, Supplementum, Carolinum, Prague 2005, p. 29–36. was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was born in Scania, then part of Denmark, now part of modern-day Sweden. Tycho was well known in his lifetime as an astronomer and alchemist.

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 sub-lunar phenomena, and were therefore not "atmospheric" tailless comets as previously believed, but were above the atmosphere and 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.Rocky Colb (1996). Blind Watchers of the Sky, p. 19-42.

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. Furthermore, he was the last of the major naked eye astronomers, working without telescopes for his observations.

Tycho Brahe was granted an estate on the island of Hven and the funding to build the 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 the former were not sufficiently steady. On the island (on which he demonstrated autocratic character and behavior toward the residents) he founded manufactories such as paper-making to provide material for printing his results. After disagreements with the new Danish king Christian IV in 1597, he was invited by the Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor Rudolph II to Prague, where he became the official imperial astronomer. He built the new observatory at Benátky nad Jizerou. Here, 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.


Early years

Tycho was born at his family’s ancestral seat of Knutstorp Castle (Danish: Knudstrup borg; Swedish: Knutstorps borg),Bricka 1888, p.606 about eight kilometres north of Svalöv in then Danish Scania, now Swedish, to Otte Brahe (of the Brahe family) and Beate Bille (of the Bille family). His twin brother died before being baptized. Tycho wrote a Latin ode to his dead twin,Wittendorff 1994, p. 68 which was printed in 1572 as his first published work. He also had two sisters, one older (Kirstine Brahe) and one younger (Sophia Brahe).

Otte Brahe, Tycho’s father, was a nobleman and an important figure at the court of the Danish king. His mother, Beate Bille, came from an important family that had produced leading churchmen and politicians. Both parents are buried under the floor of Kågeröd Church, four kilometres east of Knutstorp. An epitaph, originally from Knutstorp, but now on a plaque near the church door, shows the whole family, including Tycho as a boy.