Born on December 14, 1546. He later turned into an astronomer, astrologer and alchemist.

He was quite good at these endeavors, and was very well known in his time, and is still pretty famous today. He is famous for some star charts he didn't invent, a supernova he didn't discover, and some very exact numbers he misinterpreted to mean that the Sun revolved around the Earth. He had a nose that he claimed was made out of a silver/gold alloy (recently, analysis of his corpse suggest it may have been copper and zinc). He also had his own island with a very nice castle, for a while.

The Star Charts*: When Tycho was 17, he discovered that the Alfonsine tables were off by a month, and even the Copernicus tables were off by several days. One of his earliest accomplishments was correcting these errors. Of course, this involved many nights of stargazing; all of Tycho’s considerable fame and riches came from his talent of looking at stars.

The Supernova: in 1572 a new light appeared in the sky in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Tycho was not the first to see it, but he did notice it before it became public knowledge, and observed it using the most exact instruments of his day (no telescopes, yet). He found that it was indeed a new star, as it did not move in relation to the other stars. (This messed with the idea that God had made the stars on the 4th day and then left them alone). He published a book, De Nova Stella. Despite the name, he had no idea what the thing was. This book made him internationally famous. Because of his fame the king of Denmark gave him his own island, with money to construct an observatory, now known as Uraniborg.

The Numbers: Tycho spent 20 years looking at the night sky, and he kept very exact records. He had books full of data, in which his assistant Johannes Kepler was extremely interested. (But Tycho kept them to himself until his death, setting the field of astronomy back years). In the meantime, he worked on trying to figure out what the planets were doing. The Ptolemaic System put the Earth in the center of the solar system. This worked theologically, but not mathematically. Then Nicolaus Copernicus came up with the idea that the sun was actually the center of it all (The Copernican System). This worked (almost) mathematically, but it was not acceptable to the church. Tycho came up with the Tychonic System, in which the Earth was indeed the center of the solar system, and the sun revolved around it. The planets, in turn, orbited around the sun. This worked out (better, anyway) mathematically and was also acceptable theologically.

After Tycho's death Kepler used Tycho's observations to come up with Kepler's Laws, finally getting the math (but not the theology) to come out right.

Tycho's motto: "Not to be seen but to be" or maybe "Not to think, but to be". (My sources do not agree).

Tycho died in 1601

* I cannot find the source where I originally read this, and so the section on the star charts is partly from memory. Please let me know if you find an error.

Check out these sites (has a lot of pictures)
A search will get you a lot more.

Tycho improved the astronomical instruments, and created a well functioning observatory, Stjärnenborg, thus being able to make the very exact numerical observations that Kepler later used to develop his laws about the movement of the planets. His famous nose-job (rhinoplasty) was cosmetic, and the reason was that he lost part of the nose in a duel.

He died from drinking too much: His bladder exploded after a party at the court of Prague.

It was never mentioned how Tycho died:

He was a heavy drinker, and by the time of his death, had developed a bladder problem.

In the culture of his time, it was considered an insult to leave the table before a meal was over.

He may also not have realised he had this condition, medicine being what it was in the 16th century.

Tycho was invited to a meal at the court of some noble. He neglected to relieve himself before going, and drank too much at dinner besides. The strain within caused his bladder to rupture. It took him eleven days to die.

Also, one of my physics professors told me that Tycho is always referred to by his first name, defying the usual tradition. He never explained why, however.

I'd appreciate a /msg or a writeup that did, though.

His being called by his first name is not surprising; think of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt.

The Nose
When he was 20, he got into a duel with another man over who was the better mathematician (or perhaps over an arcane mathematical dispute); Tycho came out of it minus the bridge of his nose.

His prosthetic nose was traditionally said to have been made of a silver-gold alloy, but according to, when his tomb was opened in 1901, the nasal opening of the skull was tinted green -- a sign of exposure to copper. (Either Tycho himself was cheated by his nosemaker and thought the nose was silver-gold, or else he had it made of copper and coated with silver-gold to more closely approximate skin color.)

As for fastening methods, contemporary accounts describe him carrying the nose in a special tin of goo, either to polish it or to stick it to his face. There's no mention of straps or hooks or any other method of attaching the false nose to his face.

Other Weird Facts
His life was extraordinary, as he was an eccentric, belligerent, tyrannical, pompous man who had tremendous wealth and prestige. He received extremely generous patronage from King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway, in the form of about $5 billion, a private island (Hven), and licence to do as he pleased. On the island, he built his "castle of the heavens" (Uraniborg), which had a state-of-the-art astronomical observatory and room for lots of mischief. The castle became a scientific center on par with a modern university, but it was not without its idiosyncrasies; Tycho had a dungeon built in the castle to imprison visiting scholars who displeased him. He kept a dwarf named Jeppe as a servant/jester*, subjecting him to very degrading treatment -- Jeppe slept at the foot of Tycho's bed, had to beg for table scraps, etc. Tycho had a pet elk, which roamed the castle freely and finally died while falling down some stairs drunk. He had eight illegitimate children with a peasant woman (Kirstine). After the king died, also of drinking too much, Tycho's free ride became rockier; he was driven from Denmark and settled in Prague, where he finally died of a burst bladder.

* This may not be true. One modern account I've seen says the dwarf-jester's name was Per Gek, and he was only with Tycho for a few months. But it's too good a story to pass up.

This is only the dirt, so I've said nothing of his science. A clear, concise web biography, with good explanations of his scientific importance, is at According to that page, the standard full biography is Victor E. Thoren's The Lord of Uraniborg: A Biography of Tycho Brahe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Yumm, 9th grade science report

Tycho Brahe was born on December 14th, 1546 in a town called Knudstrup in Scania, Denmark. He was born to Otto Brahe and Beatte Bille, whom both came from noble families. Tycho, however, was raised with his uncle for his uncle and his farther had made an agreement before he was born, and if Brahe was a boy, the uncle could raise him.

At age seven, Tycho began studying Latin at his uncle's wishes. His parents did not agree with this, but he was raising Tycho, and he believed it would make him more suited to be a lawyer. At age thirteen, a few important things happened around him that affected his life. He went off to study Law and Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen. More importantly though, he witnessed a partial eclipse of the sun. He was fascinated by this event, awed by what he found more amazing then the event itself, the fact that someone had predicted this long ago. Tycho did what any good geek would do when in wonder; he set out to learn more. The advantage of being from noble family meant he had plenty of money to go buy books (including Ptolemy's Almagest) and astronomical tables like the ones Ptolemy used.

After a few years, at age sixteen, he was sent to Leipzig, in Germany, to continue his studies, or more specifically, his studies of law. A twenty-year-old tutor accompanied him by the name of Anders Vedel. As much as others wished him to study law, Brahe wished to study the stars. He hid from his tutor and late at night would watch the stars. He continued to buy books and other assorted things to quench his thirst for information on the heavens, information to make him an astronomer. When he was seventeen, he witnessed a special event. He saw Jupiter and Saturn come very close in there orbits, but the charts he had were off at least a few days, and up to a month. Tycho decided this was a horrible performance by astronomers, and he set out to do better. He decided that's what he wanted to do, become an astronomer. His tutor gave up on trying to teach him law, and afterwards they remained friends. Bad news was around the corner though. His uncle had saved the king from drowning after falling off a bridge, but in doing so, caught pneumonia. Tycho's uncle died soon after, and when Tycho returned home, he found the rest of his family displeased with him, and unhappy that he stopped studying law. They did not approve of his obsession with the night sky, and shunned him away. Tycho returned to Germany, and when he got there met a small group of rich amateur astrologists. They decided that they needed better tools for studying the stars (there were no telescopes yet). The somewhat astronomical crew set up large quadrant of a nineteen-foot circle. This was the beginning of accurate observations of the stars for Brahe.

Brahe was a short-tempered man, and got into a swordfight with another student over who was a better mathematician. Brahe got a piece of his nose cut out, and replaced it with a gold or silver fitting. After some time, Tycho witnessed another great astronomical event that would change his life forever. On November 11, 1572, walking outside he witnessed an abnormally bright star that he had never seen before. It was so bright; in fact, it could be seen even in daylight for the next eighteen months. He was curious as to what this thing was. Was it simply a changing in gasses between the earth and the moon; or was it a new star, far out into space? He used his instruments to see how it moved relative to the other stars. After much research he realized in was in fact out with the other stars, in what was called the eighth sphere. This was unbelievable for the heavens has supposedly not changed sense the day they where created, and were not supposed to change. He wrote a book about his discoveries, and how he came about proving what he saw was in fact what it was, which we now know as a supernova. He wrote several other books in his lifetime; from 1573-1602 he had 4 books published, all regarding astronomy. Brahe also discovered a comet in 1577, that being a subject for one of his books.

Tycho was now known throughout Europe and traveled the country visiting the towns and noblemen living in them. King Fredrick II of Denmark was the king Tycho's uncle has saved, and the King offered him many castles. Tycho did not approve of any of them, and in the end King Fredrick II offered him a whole island, about three miles long. He offered to pay for the building of an observatory and a castle on this island for Brahe, as well as making all the inhabitants of the island Brahe's subjects.

Tycho hired a German architect to design his "Castle of the Heavens" with beautiful domes and rooms surrounded entirely by a 250-foot wall on each side. Brahe was a heavy drinker, and held many great party's where noblemen came to visit. He has a dwarf servant who would entertain, and a tame elk, which apparently died after drinking too much and falling down a flight of stairs.

Tycho abused his servants and often threw them in chains. It was all going well, but once his friend the king died only to be replaced by another, he decided to leave the island and travel around England with his group of servants. He did this in 1597. After a short time Tycho decided he would give the king another chance. If the king would agree to the many terms that Tycho set, the astronomer said he would move back onto the island. The king refused, so Tycho continued to travel around, finally gaining a job as a mathematician as well as receiving another castle, this time from his new employer.

Tycho has several kids to a peasant wife with whom he was never officially married. He invented a system of the stars in which the Earth was the center of the universe, the Moon and Sun orbited the earth, and the remaining planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) orbited the sun. The comet he discovered in 1577 was placed between Venus and Mars. Tycho died in 1601 as a direct result of a liver problem caused by too much heavy drinking.

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