Scientists » Astronomers » TYCHO BRAHE
|Full name||: Tycho Brahe|
|Alias||: Tycho Brahe|
|Address||: Knutstorp Castle, Scania, Denmark, Denmark–Norway|
|Animals||: The Horse|
|Father||: Otte Brahe|
|Mother||: Beate Bille|
|Siblings||: Kirstine Brahe, Sophia Brahe|
|Wife||: Kirsten Jørgensdatter|
|Children||: Kirsten Barbara Jørgensdatter|
|Education||: University of Copenhagen University of Rostock|
A Danish nobleman, Tycho Brahe made important contribution to astronomy. He devised his own instrument, even before the invention of the telescope, to observe the heavens. The instruments allowed Brahe to determine the movements of celestial objects and the motion of the solar system even more precisely. In particular, Brahe made significant contributions in the study of the moon and the planet Mars, which would later prove extremely useful to another astronomer, Johannes Kepler. Known to be an interesting character, Brahe’s theories were instrumental in the development of the studies on planetary motion and he even made significant contributions in the field of Mathematics. Of all the historical works, his works on Lunar theory and his works on Ptolemaic’s idea catapulted him to fame. He was even given the position of Imperial astronomer to Emperor Rudolph II, to whom he proposed the Rudolphine and Prutenic Tables a short while before his death. Read on to know more about this interesting personality.
Brahe realized that it was time for him to pursue astronomy seriously. He was only nineteen then. In Germany, he decided to affiliate himself with a group of famous astronomers and proposed his ideas to them. His theories were criticized at first, but then slowly, Brahe convinced the astronomers that they would be requiring more complex instruments to predict the nature of the universe and the celestial movements more accurately. As telescopes were not invented at the time, he suggested large quadrants to understand the lines and the patterns of the various planets and stars. Setting up quadrants required a large amount of effort and time. This was the beginning of Brahe’s accurate astronomical observations.
In 1572, an astronomical event changed Brahe’s life forever. On November 11, while walking back home from an alchemy lab in Germany; Brahe noticed that the night sky was unusually bright. He could not believe his eyes and the new star that brightened the sky to such an extent was indeed a Supernova—a celestial wonder that was sighted only twice before, one of them, during the birth of Christ. Many leading astronomers such as Thomas Diggs and Maestlin tried to predict the movement and detect the source of this new nova. However, their endeavors were unsuccessful.
Coincidentally, Brahe had just finished working on a new astronomical device, known as the ‘sextant’ that could peer further into the sky than any of the other instruments that even existed. His technology was far ahead of his time and he was finally able to gauge the source and the movement of the Supernova. Brahe concluded that the new star did not move at all and was located in the eighth sphere of the universe. He published this account the following year and shot to fame, though he was very hesitant to publish the works since he was a nobleman. He even received several requests from budding astronomers to teach them astronomy, but he never obliged, owing to his lineage. However, during the course of time, he agreed to accept the position of Imperial astronomer proposed to him by Emperor Rudolph II towards the late 1590’s just before his death.
Born in 1546, Brahe was the eldest son of a noble Danish family who occupied themselves with hunting and warfare. However, Brahe had an uncle, who was far more educated and childless. Thus, Brahe’s father made a pact with the uncle saying that if he ever had a son, the uncle could take full responsibility for the boy and raise him as his own. But the father went back on his word and wanted to keep Brahe for himself after he was born. When the second child was born, the uncle kidnapped Brahe and raised him as his own son. Thus, Tycho stood to inherit a large estate from his uncle later in life.
Brahe was ridiculed by his family all his life for studying astronomy and was labeled a ‘stargazer’. The only support he ever received was from his uncle, who passed away much before Brahe could establish himself as a full-fledged astronomer. In one unfortunate incident with another student, Brahe lost his nose in a tempered dual and the lost piece was replaced by a gold and silver alloy. Towards the end of 1571, Brahe fell in love with a woman named Kirsten and lived with her without being bound by marriage. In Danish law, being a nobleman gave you the benefit of living openly with another woman without having to actually get married to her. She would receive all of his noble privileges, title and even status and their children would be considered legitimate. Together, they had eight children, two of them died in infancy. The couple lived together for almost thirty years, until Brahe’s death.