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Astronomy

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During his stay with his uncle Steen Bille in Herrevadskloster in 1572 Tycho Brahe observes a new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. We know now that it was a so-called super nova, a dying star

The account of this discovery becomes the start of Tycho Brahe´s fame. In time Tycho Brahe also reaches a total picture of the universe, but it doesn´t correspond to that of Copernicus´.

Nova Stella and the New Picture of the Universe
Tycho studied abroad and did not return to Denmark until the end of 1570. He spent his time with his uncle Sten Bille, who was very much interested in chemical and mechanical experiments.
In November 1572 Tycho Brahe observed in Herrevadskloster what he thought was a new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. Strongly encouraged, but against his will, he published a book on the new star in 1573. It was controversial for a nobleman to engage in such matters and the book is prefaced with a number of arguments pro and against a publication.
The book, which was printed in a few copies in Copenhagen was written in Latin and contained apart from the thesis on the new star, an astrological and meteorological almanac for the year 1573, a thesis on a future lunar eclipse and finally a poem dedicated to the god Urania.
This may seem as a strange concoction, but in Tycho Brahe´s mind there was a connection between the different parts.
Nova Stella
Nova Stella
Tycho Brahe´s picture of the world
Tycho Brahe´s picture of the world
Picture of the world
Picture of the world

The Importance of the Empirical Knowledge
Perhaps Tycho Brahe did not realize the importance of his observations. The leading astronomic perception was that the universe had been created by chance and that there had been no changes without God´s direct participation. Thus they perceived the universe af static. Therefore it was sensational that Tycho Brahe had discovered a change in the firmament and this discovery led to the conception of a dynamic universe. Via later publications he contributed to such a conception. The great importance of Tycho Brahe was his exact empirical observations. Experience had greater importance and the sense of a static cosmos retired.
Tycho Brahe showed that the universe is much greater than hitherto assumed and that it developed and changed continuously. However, he could not accept Kopernikus´ new picture of the universe with the sun and not the earth as the centre of the universe.
Tycho Brahe´s picture of the world
Tycho Brahe´s picture of the world
Obeservationsscene
Obeservationsscene
Sextant
Sextant
Notes
Notes

The Comet
When Tycho Brahe a few years later in Ven in 1577, had studied a comet, he wrote down his observations in the small publication ”Om kometen”, which became another example that you could draw empirical conclusions.

The Astrologer
Tycho Brahe mixed empirical observations with astrological predictions. His astrological predictions he commented thus:
”... even if it is hidden for everybody to know the right reasons for future things, you can however, from the old experienced astrologers´ observations and knowledge, get some indications of things that these miracles in the sky and do and this can be done without any superstition at all.
Tycho Brahe demonstrated his dissociation of superstition knowing well that the reputation and position of astrology was much debated, not least in the church and among the thinkers of the renaissance. But astrology still had a certain official status. The royal power demanded that Tycho Brahe make predictions and he drew up the horoscope of the crown prince.
The starting point in astrology was the fundamental observations about the influence of the planets, for instance that the sun provided heat and light and that the moon changed the level of the sea. Furthermore they saw that the alternation between summer and winter was dependant on the position of the planets. It is not strange that they attributed importance to the position of the planets. Although Tycho Brahe had doubts about superstition he attributed astrology an certain importance, an importance he later south to limit.
Horoscope
Horoscope

The Creator
He even attributed the belief in God importance, but approached the idea that God was the initiator of the system, but he did not intervene in the course of history and could not be influenced by prayers or rites, i.e. a deistic perception.

Recognition
Tycho Brahe in time won great recognition and from 1574 he lectured at the University in Copenhagen, which was notable for an aristocrat. He was even offered the position as rector of the university, but refused. The offer still testified to the recognition, which was offered him, also on the part of the royal power.

©  Øresundstid 2009