Tycho Brahe

2 Feb, 2023 520 Astronomy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the pioneering Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601) whose charts offered an unprecedented level of accuracy. In 1572 Brahe’s observations of a new star challenged the idea, inherited from Aristotle, that the heavens were unchanging. He went on to create his own observatory complex on the Danish island of Hven, and there, working before the invention of the telescope, he developed innovative instruments and gathered a team of assistants, taking a highly systematic approach to observation. A second, smaller source of renown was his metal prosthetic nose, which he needed after a serious injury sustained in a duel. The image above shows Brahe aged 40, from the Atlas Major by Johann Blaeu.

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  • Ole Grell No other episodes
    Emeritus Professor in Early Modern History at the Open University
  • Adam Mosley 3 episodes
    Associate Professor of History at Swansea University
  • Emma Perkins No other episodes
    Affiliate Scholar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge

Reading list

  • Instruments of the Renewed Astronomy
    Tycho Brahe (trans. Jole. R. Shackelford, Alena Hadravova, Petr Hadrava) (KLP, 1996)
  • Tycho Brahe and the Measure of the Heavens
    John Robert Christianson (Reaktion Books, 2020) Google Books →
  • On Tycho's Island: Tycho Brahe and his Assistants, 1570-1601
    John Robert Christianson (Cambridge University Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • Tycho Brahe and Prague: Crossroads of European Science
    John Robert Christianson, Alena Hadravova, Petr Hadrava and Martin Solc (eds.) (Verlag Harri Deutsch, 2002) Google Books →
  • The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction
    Michael Hoskin (Oxford University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Bearing the Heavens: Tycho Brahe and the Astronomical Community of the Late Sixteenth Century
    Adam Mosley (Cambridge University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Lord of Uraniborg: A Biography of Tycho Brahe
    Victor E. Thoren (Cambridge University Press, 1990) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m001hnlf

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001hnlf

Auto-category: 520 (Astronomy and allied sciences)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Tycho Brahe, 1546 to 1601, was born into a powerful Danish aristocratic family and was destined for the conventional life of a nobleman.