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Tycho Brahe Nose Astronomy
In the Beginning
• Born December 14, 1546 in Denmark.
• Son of Otto Brahe and Beate Bille. Two of
Denmark’s most influential families.
• Born with a stillborn twin brother.
• Kidnapped by his uncle Jörgen Brahe.
Uncle Jörgen Brahe
• Otto Brahe’s brother Jörgen was married,
but childless. He was not capable of
producing a family of his own.
• According to one account, Otto and Beate
promised Jörgen their first son, but
changed their minds.
• Jörgen kidnapped Tycho after 1 year,
while Beate was pregnant with their
Uncle Jörgen
• In all of the accounts, Uncle Jörgen
illegally took Tycho.
• Somehow it was resolved, probable due to
Otto and Beate’s newborn boy, Steen.
• Tycho was raised as an only child, with far
more attention than he would have
received with his birth parents and 7 other
Difference of Opinion
• Tycho’s interest in astronomy peeked at the
early age of 13 due to witnessing a forecasted
partial solar eclipse.
• Jörgen wanted Tycho to study law
• Jörgen dies in 1565
– Rescued the King from drowning, resulted in
• Tycho, age of 19, is now his own man supported
by a sizable inheritance. Completely abandons
law and concentrates on astronomy.
The Fools Duel
• In December of 1566, Tycho and a Danish
countryman, Parsbjerg, participate in a
drunken quarrel over which is the better
• Their “duel” takes place in a pitch black
Tycho Nose Better
• Parsbjerg’s sword
slices of the bridge of
Tycho’s nose.
• Tycho replaces
missing piece with a
gold and silver alloy
painted the color of
his flesh and kept in
place by a piece of
The Island of Venus (Hveen)
• King Frederick II
got word that
Tycho might be
Denmark. He
gave Tycho an
offer he couldn’t
• The Island of
Hveen, 2000
Tools of the Trade
• Gigantic Quadrant.
• Measures altitude of
stars to the nearest
arc minute. This has
not been prior to
Tools continued
• Constructed a 5 foot
diameter globe where
he would accurately
fix the positions of all
the stars from his
• 1000 stars
More tools
• Sextant for measuring
the angular distance
between two celestial
New Star
• A supernova was observed in Cassiopeia
for 18 months.
• Using a sextant he observed that the new
star was not moving in relationship to
other stars.
• This observation challenged the beliefs of
the time that the heavens remain
A Star is Born
• Published De Nova Stella (On the New Star) in
• Tycho’s careful attention to detail supported by
scientific documentation left little in doubt.
• Establishes Tycho as astronomer throughout
• The remnant is now known as Tycho’s Star,
even though he was not the 1st to discover it.
(The SNR remnant is visible as a nebula)
The Comet of 1577
• Observed for over 2 months.
• Tycho calculated it was at least 6 lunar
distances away from Earth. This distance
puts it in the Ptolemaic models region of
fixed stars.
• This was another blow to the geocentric
Tycho’s Universe
• Tycho was not a fan of Copernicus’
heliocentric universe, but he now had
doubts about the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic
• He developed the Tychonic System
Tychonic System
• Moon revolving
around the centered
• The Sun orbits the
Earth, but all planets
and comets revolve
around the Sun.
Just keep recording stuff.
• Tycho was responsible for instituting
immense changes in the techniques of
celestial observation.
• Unlike Copernicus or Kepler, he was not
an innovator of astronomical concepts.
• However, he did lay the groundwork for
the new precision upon which astronomy
and all the other modern sciences rest.
Adios Denmark
• Tycho’s pride gets him kicked off the Island.
• Moves to Prague and meets Kepler.
• Goes to a royal dinner party and drinks too
much (as usual). Follows the etiquette of the
time and does not stand before the King.
• Causes major damage to his bladder (blew
• “Let me not be thought to have lived in vain.”
• Kepler uses Tycho’s info to produce the 3
laws of planetary motion.
Did his bladder blow up
• Forensics studies of Tycho’s exhumed
body may provide evidence that he did not
die from bladder related complications, but
rather from Mercury poison (a common
method of assassination at the time).