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20 January, 2010

Well into the new year, and just at a month since my previous entry, I thought it may be a good time to throw something at you. It may not be too terribly interesting though. … I’m about to choose from a summary I wrote for one of my classes… hm…. Tycho Brahe it is (I just wrote this one today):

Tycho Brahe (Tyge Ottesen Brahe) was a famous 16th Century astronomer and alchemist from Denmark (in what is today Sweden). During his attendance at the University of Copenhagen, he became increasingly frustrated with the existing astral charts in that none of them matched. Thus he realized that the only way to go about correcting this problem was by systematically creating accurate charts himself. This he became notable for as being the first of his kind, at least in the Western world. Apparently he became very possessive of these charts, even keeping them from his sometime associate Johannes Kepler, the only worthwhile astronomer other than himself in the area at this time.

Tycho is also famous for his “golden” nose, which he received in a fight while at school in Germany. It seems likely that Brahe had several different noses which he used and wore (a bit like Captain Hook’s hook) for different occasions. Primarily it is thought that he wore a copper composite piece as it was softer and more comfortable on the face than a heavier metal like gold. … In 1572 Tycho made his most famous discovery in the constellation Cassiopeia, which he titled de nova stella (the “new” star). This is the origin of the term “Supernova”. A supernova is, in fact, the death of a star. It is my understanding that there are two ways a star can die; the death or “overheating” of the core of a star itself. Tycho’s Supernova is a Type Ia, meaning that it came from a white dwarf star in a binary system. Briefly, a Type Ia is when one of two stars in a system expands it’s outer layers (as it begins to die) which merges with the relatively newly formed white dwarf, thus increasing the core temperature of said white dwarf, causing the star to “overheat” and explode. In the end, the explosion effectively acts like a multivitamin to the galaxy and ultimately, the universe.

Tycho was given the island of Hven by the king Fredrick II of Denmark to build an observatory on. From here he could continue his experiments, develop new tools, etc…Eventually, after the death of Fredrick, he had a falling out with the new King and left the island. In 1599 he came to Prague and became employed by the Emperor, Rudolph II. In 1601 he died of Uremia (a kidney disease). His work was continued by Johannes Kepler, who, with no ease, acquired Brahe’s works from his family. Though Brahe struggled his whole life to define the Laws of Planetary Motion (continually being hung up on the movement of Mars), Kepler (benefitting effectively from Brahe’s work) in fact was able to understand them through the discovery of the ellipse.

Now you’re smart.

You’re welcome.

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