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.
Emeritus Professor in Early Modern History at the Open University
Associate Professor of History at Swansea University
Affiliate Scholar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.