Tycho Brahe

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Tycho Ottesen Brahe
BirthplaceKnutstorp Castle, Scania, Denmark, Denmark–Norway
Nobleman, Astronomer

Brahe, Tycho

(tī`kō brä), 1546–1601, Danish astronomer. The most prominent astronomer of the late 16th cent., he paved the way for future discoveries by improving instruments and by his precision in fixing the positions of planets and stars. From Brahe's exact observations of the planets, Kepler devised his laws of planetary motions (see Kepler's lawsKepler's laws,
three mathematical statements formulated by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler that accurately describe the revolutions of the planets around the sun. Kepler's laws opened the way for the development of celestial mechanics, i.e.
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). Brahe's achievements included the study of a supernova (first observed in 1572 and now known as Tycho's supernova) in the constellation Cassiopeia and the discoveries of a variation in the inclination of the lunar orbit and of the fourth inequality of the moon's motion. He never fully accepted the Copernican system but made a compromise between it and the Ptolemaic system. In the Tychonic system, the earth was the immobile body around which the sun revolved, and the five planets then known revolved around the sun. Given funds by the Danish king Frederick II, Brahe built on the island of Ven a castle, Uranienborg, and an observatory, Stjarneborg. He was deprived of his revenues by Christian IV in 1596 and left Ven (1597); in 1599 he settled near Prague under the patronage of the German emperor Rudolf II. He published (1588) De mundi aetherii recentioribus phaenomenis, the second volume of a projected three-volume work on his astronomical observations; from an incomplete manuscript and notes Kepler edited Volume I, Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata (1602). Brahe's Astronomiae instauratae mechanica (1598) contained his autobiography and a description of his instruments.


See biographies by J. L. Dreyer (1890, repr. 1963) and J. A. Gade (1947).

Tycho Brahe:

see Brahe, TychoBrahe, Tycho
, 1546–1601, Danish astronomer. The most prominent astronomer of the late 16th cent., he paved the way for future discoveries by improving instruments and by his precision in fixing the positions of planets and stars.
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Enlarge picture
An engraving of the great astronomer Tycho Brahe by Gheyn near the end of the sixteenth century. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.

Brahe, Tycho

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Tycho Brahe, an eminent Danish astronomer and astrologer, was born April 13, 1546, in Kundstorp, Denmark. He taught astronomy at the University of Copenhagen and established an observatory on the island of Hven under the patronage of King Frederick II. Brahe moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia, after the king’s death, where he took Johannes Kepler as his assistant.

Dissatisfied with inexactness of most existing observations of the celestial bodies, Brahe designed instruments that enabled him to make the most precise observations of the heavens to be recorded prior to the invention of the telescope, and he discovered the phenomenon of exploding novas. (The accuracy of Brahe’s observations enabled Kepler to discover some of the laws governing planetary motions.) Brahe was also a mundane astrologer. He contributed to aspect theory and did work on the connection between the natural cataclysms and conjunctions. He died October 21, 1601, in Prague.


Brau, Jean-Louis, Helen Weaver, and Allan Edmands. Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: New American Library, 1980.
Kitson, Annabella, ed. History and Astrology: Clio and Urania Confer. London: Mandala, 1989.

Brahe, Tycho


Born Dec. 14, 1546, in Knudstrup; died Oct. 13, 1601, in Prague. Danish astronomer.

In 1572, Tycho observed a new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. From 1576 to 1597 he directed the Uraniborg Observatory, which he built on the island of Hven in Øresund Strait near Copenhagen and equipped with excellent instruments made under his supervision. He spent 21 years there observing the stars, planets, and comets and determining the positions of heavenly bodies with a very high degree of accuracy. This was his main contribution. He also discovered two inequalities in the motion of the moon (annual inequality and variation). He demonstrated that comets are heavenly bodies farther from the earth than the moon. He compiled refraction tables. Tycho did not accept the heliocentric system of the world; in its place he proposed another system (that the sun moves around the earth, the earth stands in the center of the universe, and the planets revolve around the sun); this was an unsuccessful combination of Ptolemy’s teaching and the Copernican system. In 1597, Tycho was forced to leave Denmark (the Uraniborg Observatory was abandoned after his departure); and after spending two years in Germany, he went to Prague, where J. Kepler became his assistant. Kepler was left very valuable observations after Tycho’s death. Based on these observations, Kepler formulated his famous laws of the motion of the planets.


Opera omnia, vols. 1–15. Edited by J. L. E. Dreyer. Copenhagen, 1913–29.


Berry, A. Kratkaia istoriia astronomii, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. (Translated from English.)
Dreyer, J. L. E. Tycho Brahe. Edinburgh, 1890.
Tycho Brahe’s Description of His Instruments and Scientific Work. Translated and edited by H. Raeder (and others). Copenhagen, 1946.