Tycho BraheBy: AddieE731
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An adulthood portrait of Tycho Brahe

What does an astronomer do?
An astronomer studies the solar system and everything in it. They may study the positions of the planets and stars, eclipses, or asteroids. Astronomers contribute to the lives of people in society in a positive way. These scientists can help keep others safe. If they discover a meteor rocketing towards Earth, they will warn the residents of the targeted area. If they predict the upcoming occurrence of an eclipse, they can inform people about the event to prevent them from being caught off guard. Astronomers can also educate others about their discoveries and teach them about the universe that keeps them alive. Without astronomers, we would be oblivious to anything occurring outside of Earth.
Early Life
On December 14, 1546, Tycho Brahe was born at the Knudstrup Castle in Helsing, Denmark. His birthplace is now located in modern Sweden. Tycho Brahe had been interested in the stars and sky for a while before he chose to become an astronomer during August of 1563, when he was sixteen years old. During the same month, he started to calculate the distance between Jupiter and Saturn. It was predicted by two different solar system tables that they would come so close together that it would appear as if the planets were touching. However, one prediction was a month off and Tycho’s estimate using another model was about a day away from the actual occurrence of the phenomenon. Tycho was horrified by these mistakes. It hit him that when he chose astronomy as his career, it was not as exact as he thought. He vowed to not let anyone interfere with his goal to accurately map the solar system.
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The Knudstrup Castle where Tycho was born
Officially, Tycho Brahe was not allowed to marry his girlfriend, Kirsten Jørgensdatter, due to the fact that he was noble and she wasn’t. It was unlawful to marry under these circumstances. However, they started living as a couple in 1572. Tycho and Kirsten had eight children and never separated. Their marriage was full of love and happiness.
Tycho Brahe was an astronomer who made plenty of important astronomical discoveries. In 1571, he built an astronomy observatory after gathering tools for astronomy from his travels in Europe. Soon after the completion of his observatory in 1571, on November 11, 1572, he spotted a bright star in the constellation Cassiopeia that shone more than Venus. Tycho figured out that it was a new fixed star beyond the moon. This discovery shocked the world. Until then, it was thought that the solar system was permanent and never changed. People had thought that an addition to the universe was impossible. Tycho Brahe proved the world wrong. He also calculated the correct location of over 777 stars and accurately changed almost all current accounts of astronomical discoveries with the help of his assistants. In short, he changed how the world saw the night sky.
Later Years
After Tycho Brahe discovered the new star in 1572, Denmark’s King Frederick II helped him build a larger and improved observatory. He gave Tycho money and land on Hven, an island near Denmark and Scania. At about the same time, Tycho Brahe published a recount of his discoveries in 1573. Tycho Brahe was well known by many Europeans by that period of time. Unfortunately, the government stopped giving Tycho money for his observations after King Frederick died in 1588. Tycho Brahe died on October 24, 1601 after leaving his observatory in 1597 and moving to Prague. There are a couple theories about Tycho Brahe’s death. One states that he died of a bladder infection. Another idea is that Tycho was poisoned with mercury. No one is sure of the absolute cause of his death, but we all know that that day in 1601 was scarred by the death of a genius.
Fun Facts:
  • A fight over a math method cost Tycho Brahe his nose at the age of 20.
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    Tycho Brahe's Grave
  • He likely wore a faux nose made of copper after his unfortunate injury.
  • He was kidnapped by his uncle when he was two, but his parents didn’t care.
  • Tycho had a pet elk.
  • His elk took a fatal fall down a flight of stairs after consuming a large amount of beer.
  • The government of Denmark spent five times more money on Tycho Brahe’s work than how much money Tycho owned himself.
  • Author Unknown. “Tycho’s Life.” Tychobrahe.com. the Tycho Brahe Museum, Publication Date Unknown. Web. 20 Sept., 2013.
  • Boerst, William J. Tycho Brahe: Mapping the Heavens. 1st Edition. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 2003. Print.

  • Christianson, John Robert. “Brahe, Tycho”. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Noretta Koertge, Ed. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2008. Print.

  • "Tycho Brahe." Britannica School. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 19 Sep. 2013.
  • Wilkins, Alasdair. “The Crazy Life and Crazier Death of Tycho Brahe, History’s Strangest Astronomer.” I09. The Times, Nov. 22, 2010. Web. 19 Sep., 2013.

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