FLAG chronology according to the overall number of visitors on this web site (Jan. 1999 - March 2005)
TYCHO BRAHE'S LIFEHOOD (*1)
Tycho (or Tyge) Brahe was a famous Danish astronomer & astrologer. He was born on the 14th
of December 1546 (all dates referred to in this article are of the Julian calendar) at Knudstrup
in Scandia (Skåne), then a Danish county (now a part of Sweden). Most of the time,
he was brought up by his father's brother, who inscribed him at the University of Copenhagen
when he was 13 years old, so that he could study and rhetoric and philosophy. A remarkable sun
eclipse, which took place on the 21st of August 1560 made Tycho Brahe aware of the stars, and
he began to study astronomical literature, for example Ptolemy.
The journey to Germany
In 1564 he was sent to Leipzig to study law, and Anders Vedel should accompany him
as his private teacher. Yet Tycho Brahe had difficulty with his law studies and
gave it up. In Leipzig, however, Brahe discovered that the existing planetary
tableaux, the so-called Alphonsine and Prutenian tableaux, were not quite in
correspondence with the actual positions of the stars in the sky, so he decided
to renew these measurements as to contribute with a new basis for astronomy by
systematic and meticulous observations. So in Leipzig, he did finish his first
self-made astronomical instrument, the so-called Jacob Stave.
Brahe discovers a Supernova
Tycho Brahe came to Wittenberg near Rostock Germany, where he had a vehement argument
with another Dane about some new mathematical formulae (parables), which mouthed into a
swords duel between the two, where Tycho Brahe had his nose cut of and had to cover the
missing 'item' with a copper alloy. He continued his journey to Basel Switzerland and
Augsburg Germany. During this journey, he created connections with colleagues within
astronomy and chemistry. By returning to Denmark in 1570 he did occupy himself with chemistry,
until the his discovery of a new star, a supernova, in the constellation
Cassiopeia (on the 11th of November 1572), an event that brought him back to astronomy (*2).
His work De Nove Stella
(Copenhagen 1573) made him famous, and since he was discontent with conditions in
Denmark, where his marriage with a women of non-nobility was made odious, he
went abroad again in 1575, went to Kassel German where he visited Count Wilhelm of
Hessen. The latter warmly recommended the Danish King Frederic the IInd to make
sure that Tycho Brahe had good possibilities to work within Denmark, thus King
Frederic decided to give him the island Hven (situated in Øresund, the
belt linking Zealand with Scania).
The observations of Tycho Brahe
On the island Hven, Brahe made build his two famous observatories
Uraniborg and Stjerneborg. These observatories were
equipped with numerous and costly instruments which for most of them were
created and made by Tycho Brahe him self. From these observatories, Brahe
studied together with his pupil (whereof the most famous probably is
Longomantanus) a long row of magnificent observations of the positions
of the Sun, the Moon, planets and fix-stars. This measuring has been vital for
astronomy, since Brahe's meticulous construction of instruments and elimination
of errors herein, gave these instruments a precision, which was quite unheard of
at the time.
Brahe contra Copernicus
In addition to his observatories, Brahe also built up industries on Hven, for
instance a paper mill and a book-printing house. Principals and scientists from
all countries came to the little island to see these miraculous events that
took place there. After the death of Frederic the IInd in 1588, Brahe came into
difficulties. The ruthlessness and coincidentiality by which Brahe reigned over
these industries, caused the severe government of King Christian the IVth to
gradually withdraw Tycho Brahe's privileges. Due to intrigues after the death
of King Frederic, Tycho Brahe exiled himself as from 1597.
With his family,
his instruments and manuscripts he left Denmark for good. After visiting
Rostock and Wandsbeck for a couple of years, he came to Bohemia at the
invitation of Habsburg Emperor Rudolf the IInd, who, in 1583, had moved his
Court from Vienna to Prague. On personal level, Emperor Rudolf was very
interested in mysticism, and anyone claiming an insight into the enigmas and
mysteries of the Universe, even such bright souls as foreign astrologers,
had the Emperor's vivid ear.
His last days were spent in Prague (*3)
The Emperor's fascination with planetary movements had made him invite Tycho Brahe,
who had been famous in Europe since the 1570's, and the Emperor wished to connect
Brahe to his Court; the two of them had met already earlier in Germany, and Tycho
Brahe even was present in the Vitus Cathedral, when the Emperor was crowned.
But it was only in 1599 that Tycho Brahe came to work at the Rudolfine Court
together with his assistant Johannes Kepler (*4).
They argued vehemently
about Copernicus' Sun oriented system, which Kepler was in favour of, whereas
Tycho Brahe to the days of his death maintained that the Earth was the centre
of the Universe. Albeit their disagreement, Tycho Brahe rendered all his Life's
work to Kepler and recommended him as Court Astronomer. A myth has it that
Brahe died of an open bladder (the Court Etiquette did not make it possible to leave
the table, until the diners were officially over) - but this myth is very unlikely
to be true.
Death came unto him on the 24th of Octobre 1601 (Julian style) when he was
54 years old. His
unsouled (dead) body is buried at the Tyn Church (Tein) of Prague.
The leavings of Tycho Brahe
The works of Tycho Brahe have been compiled and published in 15 volumes under
the title Tychonis Brahe Opera Omnia, published by the Society for Danish
Language and Literature. Therein one may find (among many fascinating articles),
the three astrological predictions (Nativities) made by Tycho Brahe at the order
of King Frederic the IInd at the birth respectively of his three sons. Different
people disagree whether Brahe himself actually believed in the interpretation of such
October 2001 marked the 400 year anniversary of Tycho Brahe's death in Prague. He is buried
in the heart of the old city of Prague (Staré Mesto) ; and there is a memorial site at his
grave at the Tyn Church. On the occasion of this anniversary, the writer Per midl
wrote an excellent article from Prague,
which was published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
The following is an extract thereof:
Brahe's work is still alive (*5)
QUOTE Per midl: "(...) And yet his work is still alive today, four hundred years after Tycho Brahe's death! (...)
From a monument in the outskirts of the castle area in Prague, where Tycho Brahe, the
a Catholic (*6) stands side by side by his pupil Johannes Keppler (a Protestant), both of
them wear long mantles and behold the future, they pioneered through their cooperation.
Scientists they were, in a time, when it still was legitimate to believe in something higher than man, where it was not
considered ridiculous, if a scientist as a person combined science and art, astronomy and astrology; where it still
was considered important to develop instruments - not only to be able to observe phenomena in the outer world,
but also phenomena in the inner.
Where accounting for connections and finding relationships between the bodies of the outer space and the inner
star heaven within the human body and mind was the very issue of their doings (...) With his live and with his death,
he serves as an example for a sceptic Modernity, reigned by barren opinion-formers (...),"
writes Per midl.
N O T E S
(*1) Note: Thanks a lot to Scylla from the USA, Denis Hamel and other nice people for appreciated
help and corrections to this web page.
(*2) Note: Many thanks to Søren Puggaard, Denmark, for the specifying
the details about the supernova in Cassiopeia (January 2003).
(*3) Note: A part of the information provided in this paragraph stems from
Inge Bro-Jørgensen's book in Danish on Prague: "Prag", Copenhagen 1990: Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arold Busck Publ., pp. 113-116.
(*4) Johannes Kepler, later, became a famous astronomer of his own renown when
he discovered his famous laws for the planetary moves around the Sun.
(*5) Note: Short extract from an article by the writer Per midl in the Danish
newspaper Jyllands-Posten: "Tanker om Tycho", Indblik p. 6, Sunday,
October 21st, 2001 ; translated into English by myself.
(*6) Note: I have been told that Tyche Brahe was a Lutheran (like Kepler).
"TYCHO BRAHIAN DAYS"
EXCERPTS of an article printed in "Stjernerne"
(Copenhagen 9/1985, pp. 369-373), written by body therapist, Swami Chandresh M.A. & B.A.
translated by myself into English (permission granted)
Tycho Brahe was a Danish astronomer with international renown. In his time (1546-1601)
the old and new paradigms fought one against the other; he could not entirely accept
the new paradigm, but he contributed to the new one by his reliable measurings.
On the island Hven, he established his observatories received visits by many a
learned person from Europe. From not quite clear reasons, he escaped to Prague,
where he continued his astronomical and astrological works. The Emperor Rudolf the IInd
made him make a list of days of bad luck, which hereafter bore his name Tycho Brahian
days. Such days of bad fortune would be:
the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 11th, 12th, and 20th of January;
the 11th, 17th, and 18th of February; the 1st, 4th, 14th and 15th of March;
the 10th, 17th, and 18th of April; the 7th and 18th of May;
the 6th of June; the 17th and 21st of July; the 20th and 21st of August;
the 16th and 18th of September; the 6th of October;
the 6th and 18 of November; and the 6th, 11th, and 18th of December.
It is, however, rather possible that when enlisting these dates, Tycho Brahe leaned
on a very old tradition.
Tycho Brahe and astrology
articles, Tycho Brahe is often presented as having animosity towards astrology,
and his precisely drawn chart for King Christian the IVth is understood as a
commercial act only. But IT IS NOT TRUE that Tycho Brahe was against astrology.
What he disliked, was astrological charlatans (ignorants), which is something
else. The Danish culture historic Troels Lund says, that Tycho Brahe gave his
Life to the improvement of astrology. And it can be established that at the University
of Copenhagen in the winter of 1574-75 he concluded his speech with a lecture on
astrology which was formed as a homage to astrology. He quoted the Roman poet
Ovid with these words: God has given mankind a face that looks upwards
and has commanded us to stay at our feet and turn our eyes upwards to see the