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Tychos life
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Tychos life

Tycho Brahe was born on 14th December 1546 at the castle of Knutstorp in Scania – which at that time was a province of Denmark. His parents, Otte Brahe and Beate Bille, belonged to the highest-ranked nobility in Denmark, and several of his relatives served the king as advisers and warriors. He was brought up by his paternal uncle Jörgen Brahe and his wife Inger Oxe at the castle of Tosterup. He spent much time with other relatives at the castle of Herrevadskloster.

At the age of 13, Tycho was sent to the University of Copenhagen to study philosophy and rhetorics. A solar eclipse 1560 awoke his interest in astronomy, and he began reading books on the subject. He attended the universities of Leipzig, Wittenberg, Rostock and Basel to study law, humanities and science. In Leipzig he started astronomical studies without permission, but was soon forgiven after demonstrating successes. He found that old observations were very inaccurate, and started to design methods and instruments for high-precision measurement of positions of celestial bodies.







Knutstorp. Copper etching from Abraham Fischer's Prospector, 1756, after a drawing by Gerhard von Burman, 1680

During his time in Rostock he allegedly had a controversy with another student over who was the best mathematician. This resulted in a duel where he got a deep wound in his nose. The rest of his life he covered the scar with a plate probably made of a silver-copper alloy to imitate the colour of the skin.






Herrevads Monastery. Copper etching from Abraham Fischer's Prospector ,1756,
after a drawing by Gerhard von Burman, 1680.

In 1570 Tycho returned to Scania. He spent long periods of time at Herrevadskloster which was owned by his maternal uncle Steen Bille. He built a laboratory there and became absorbed in the study of chemistry. On 11th November 1572 he observed a new brilliant star in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Tycho's measurements showed that it really was a distant star and not any local phenomena. This was very intriguing at that time, since the sphere of the stars was considered to be divine and perfect, hence no changes ought to take place there. Tycho observed its brightness evolve until it faded away the next year. He reported the event in his book "De stella nova", which made him famous all over Europe.

Tack vare sin berömdhet blev Tycho erbjuden vetenskapliga uppdrag över hela Europa. Den danske kungen övertalade honom dock att stanna i Danmark. Tycho förlänades ön Hven i Öresund mellan Danmark och Skåne, och dessutom inkomsterna från ett antal egendomar. I gengäld skulle Tycho bygga ett eget observatorium på Hven, och leda ett ambitiöst vetenskapligt program. Detta uppskattas ha kostat Danmark mer än 5% av landets bruttonationalprodukt, ett världsrekord som stått sig sedan dess

The danish sea-army Öresund. From 1580 in Georg Braun´s and Franz Hogenbergs Liber quartus urbium præcipuarum totius mundi

Because of his fame, Tycho was offered scientific positions all over Europe. However, the king of Denmark persuaded him to stay in Denmark. Tycho was given the island of Hven in the sound between Denmark and Scania as a fief, and additionally the incomes from a number of estates. In return Tycho was to build his observatory on Hven, and conduct an ambitious scientific
program. This is estimated to have cost Denmark more than 5% of its Gross National Product, an all-time world record.

Prague 1600. Detalj ur kopparstick av Phillip van der Bosche. Till vänster syns Teyn-kyrkan där Tycho Brahe ligger begravd.

Tycho Brahe died 24th October 1601 of a urinary bladder infection that he may have tried to cure himself, with a medicine containing mercury. Today Ven is a scenic and tourist-friendly island, very much alive. The remnants of Uraniborg, the garden and Stjerneborg are seen by thousands of interested visitors every year, as is the Tycho Brahe Museum.


Curriculum vitae http://www.rundetaarn.dk/engelsk