Jorgen Brahe and his wife Inger Oxe had no children of their own, and they acted as foster parents to Tycho until Jorgen’s death. Jorgen Brahe was a leading

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Born: 14 Dec 1546 in Knutstorp, Skane, Denmark (now Svalıv, Sweden Died: 24 Oct 1601 in Prague, Bohemia (now Czech Republic)Tycho Brahe Jorgen Brahe and his wife Inger Oxe had no children of their own, and they acted as foster parents to Tycho until Jorgen’s death. Jorgen Brahe was a leading Danish noble while Inger Oxe was the sister of Peder Oxe who was a member of the Rigsraads, the governing council consisting of 20 advisors to the King.In 1559 Tycho began his studies at the University of Copenhagen. There, following the wishes of his uncle, he studied law but also studied a variety of other subjects and became interested in astronomy. In 1562 he set off to go to the University of Leipzig. Astronomy was not ofÞcially part of his studies, these were classical languages and culture, but he had bought his astronomy books with him together with ‘s constellation maps. He began making observations and by August 1563. Had an argument with another Danish student and in the resulting duel Tycho had part of his nose cut off. Alchemy was a major interest for Tycho In 1571 with the help of his uncle Steen Bille, Tycho began constructing an observatory in Herrevad Abbey. They also built an alchemy laboratory there.

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Tycho Brahe On 11 November 1572, he emerged into the dark of the early evening, after a long stint of alchemical experimentation, and his Þrst glance at the sky showed him an extra star in the constellation of Cassiopeia, almost directly overhead. He instantly summoned his chemical assistant to conÞrm that the star really was there. He was not the Þrst to see the new star (a supernova ) but his observations of it (published in 1574) did much to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the star really belonged to the firmament and was not merely a local phenomenon in the sublunary world (as comets were generally believed to be). The star is now usually known as ‘Tycho’s supernova’. It turned Tycho’s interest back to astronomy. Tycho visited Frankfurt, Basel and finally Venice before returning to Denmark by the end of 1575. By this time he had made a decision to leave Denmark and to settle in Basel, but King Frederick of Denmark was not going to lose his most eminent scientist easily so he made offers to Tycho to entice him to set up an observatory in Denmark. After some offers which Tycho did not find attractive, the King offered Tycho the island of Hven (called today Ven)

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Tycho went on to set up a purpose- built observatory, on the island of Hven in Copenhagen Sound. The observatory, called Uraniborg, was equipped with exceptionally large and accurate instruments (and with an alchemical laboratory in its basement ). At Uraniborg Tycho made twenty years’ worth of astronomical observations.Here is Tycho’s drawing of the main building at Uraniborg , taken from his Astronomiae instauratae mechanica (1598)

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One of the most exciting astronomical events which Tycho observed from Uraniborg was a comet which he Þrst spotted on 13 November 1577. He published his account in De mundi aetherei recentioribus phaenomenis (1588) where he draws cosmological conclusions from the fact that his measurements show that the comet is not closer to Earth than the Moon, contradicting Aristotle’s model of the cosmos. From his observations Tycho was able to show that the comet was certainly further away than Venus.

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The observations have errors falling mostly between about 0.5′ and 1.0′, that is, about the accuracy of the standard used for comparison. Thus, as was also the case in the earlier study of Þxed stars, Kepler’s belief that Tycho’s observations could be trusted to better than two minutes is amply conÞrmed.Mural quadrantIn his younger days Tycho had been convinced by Copernicus’ Sun centered model but his firm belief that theory must be supported by experimental evidence led him away. The problem was, of course, that in the Sun centered model of Copernicus a parallax shift should be observed but despite his attempts to measure such a shift, Tycho could detect none . The first measurement of the parallax of a star was in 1838 by Bessel who found 0.3″ for the parallax of 61 Cygni. Despite the quality of Tycho’s measurements, this value in about 100 times smaller that Tycho’s observational errors.

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When Tycho died, Kepler succeeded him as Imperial Mathematician. Tycho’s observations of planetary positions, which were made using instruments with open sights (a telescope was not used for astronomy until about 1609), were much more accurate than any made by his predecessors. They allowed Kepler, who (unlike Tycho) was a convinced follower of Copernicus, to deduce his three laws of planetary motion (1609, 1619) and to construct astronomical tables, the Rudolphine Tables (Ulm, 1627), whose enduring accuracy did much to persuade astronomers of the correctness of the Copernican theory. However, until at least the mid-seventeenth century, Tycho’s model of the planetary system was that favored by most astronomers. It had the advantage of avoiding the problems introduced by ascribing motion to the Earth.

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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)!!!Johannes Kepler was born in Weil der Stadt in Swabia, in southwest Germany. In 1584 he entered the Protestant seminary at Adelberg, and in 1589 he began his university education at the Protestant university of Here he studied theology and read widely. He passed the M.A. examination in 1591 and continued his studies as a graduate student.Kepler’s teacher in the mathematical subjects was Michael Maestlin (1580-1635). Maestlin was one of the earliest astronomers to subscribe to Copernicus’s heliocentric theory, although in his university lectures he taught only the Ptolemaic system. Only in what we might call graduate seminars did he acquaint his students, among whom was Kepler, with the technical details of the Copernican system. Kepler stated later that at this time he became a Copernican for “physical or, if you prefer, metaphysical reasons.” In 1594 Kepler accepted an appointment as professor of mathematics at the Protestant seminary in Graz (in the Austrian province of Styria). He was also appointed district mathematician and calendar maker. Kepler remained in Graz until 1600, when all Protestants were forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the province, as part of Counter Reformation * measures. For six years, Kepler taught arithmetic, geometry (when there were interested students), Virgil, and rhetoric. In his spare time he pursued his private studies in astronomy and astrology.

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he published his first important work, The Cosmographic Mystery, in which he argued that the distances of the planets from the Sun in the Copernican system were determined by the five regular solids, if one supposed that a planet’s orbit was circumscribed about one solid and inscribed in another. It was a wrong description of planet orbitsKepler was invited by Tycho Brahe to Prague to become his assistant and calculate new orbits for the planets from Tycho’s observations. Kepler moved to Prague in 1600.

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Kepler served as Tycho Brahe’s assistant until the latter’s death in 1601 and was then appointed Tycho’s successor as Imperial Mathematician, the most prestigious appointment in mathematics in Europe. He occupied this post until, in 1612, Emperor Rudolph II was 1609 his Astronomia Nova (“New Astronomy”) appeared, which contained his first two laws (planets move in elliptical orbits with the sun as one of the foci, and a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal times). Whereas other astronomers still followed the ancient precept that the study of the planets is a problem only in kinematics, Kepler took an openly dynamic approach, introducing physics into the heavens.

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