Biographies

Tycho Brahe and the firmament measures

Tycho Brahe and the firmament measures

Tycho Brahe has been considered the largest observer of the period prior to the invention of the telescope and innovative in astronomical studies.

Danish astronomer (1546-1601), of noble family, intrepid character, and intolerant of social conventions, had a very adventurous life: he traveled a lot, always pursuing astronomy studies that he had begun as a young man, impressed with the solar eclipse of 1560 .

In 1565, due to a difference of opinion with another student due to a mathematical problem, he was dueling and was mutilated from his nose, having to wear a gold, silver and wax hairpiece for the rest of his life. He enjoyed the favor of the King of Denmark Frederick I who, in 1576, gave him the small island of Hven, in the Sund Strait, now Swedish territory.

Here, Tycho built the largest observatory of his time, which he called Uraniborg, a "city of heaven" named in honor of Urania, the muse of astronomy. He provided the observatory with monumental and perfected instruments, some of which were devised by himself: mural quadrants, sextants, armillary spheres, squares and gnomones with gigantic graduated scales to obtain the best possible precision in determining the celestial coordinates and The other astronomical measures.

In 1572 a very bright star appeared in the constellation of Cassiopeia, reaching the luminosity of Jupiter and then it went off slowly, although it remained visible until March 1574. Tycho observed it for a year and a half, trying to calculate with his instruments and knowledge the distance with the parallax method.

The astronomer then realized that the star nova lacked parallax, which was equivalent to admitting that it was at an infinite distance, that is, that it belonged to the sphere of fixed stars.

Tycho Brahe published the results of his work, provoking with him a true revolution in the field of astronomical beliefs: for the first time it was shown that the superlunar spheres were not at all immutable, contrary to Aristotle's opinion.

In 1588, the astronomer denied, not with simple dissertations, but with evidence based on his observations and measurements, another theory that at that time was universally accepted: that of the atmospheric nature of comets. He continued with his instruments to the comet appeared on November 13, 1577, measured its parallax and, therefore, the distance, and concluded that it was approximately 230 Earth radii, that is, beyond the Moon, which is 60 Earth radios

Tycho rejected the Copernican system not because of ignorance, but because of consistency with his observations. He reasoned this way: if the Earth revolved along an orbit around the Sun, as Copernicus thought, the observer should notice an annual displacement (parallax) in the positions of the fixed stars. As Tycho could never measure that displacement, he became convinced that Copernicus was in error. Tycho's reasoning was unacceptable: it was the insufficient precision of his instruments that did not allow him to appreciate the small parallax of the stars.

After the death of the King of Denmark, which occurred in 1588, he left the island of Hven and settled in Benatky Castle, near Prague, becoming the official mathematician of Emperor Rodolfo ll. Here he joins in 1600 the young J. Kepler, with whom he had a fruitful collaboration in the last years of his life. When he died, he left Kepler with the observations made over years and years of study, in the hope that he could demonstrate his theory of the Universe.

Kepler used Tycho's work to formulate his famous laws on planetary movements, which, instead, served as confirmation of Copernicus's theory of the solar system.

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Nicholas Copernicus and heliocentric theoryGiordano Bruno, martyr of heliocentric ideas