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Book reviews for "Brahe,_Tycho" sorted by average review score:

Tycho & Kepler
Published in Hardcover by Walker & Co (November, 2002)
Author: Kitty Ferguson
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Experimentalist & Theorist
As a physics teacher, I like to use the background on figures from scientific history to try to generate some interest from my students. When teaching Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion, I always make sure to talk about the contributions of Tycho Brahe. To my mind, the relationship between Brahe and Kepler is one of the earliest examples of the experimentalist/theorist relationship and, unfortunately, it is the experimentalist who is often lost to history while the theorist is remembered. I teach my students the names of both Brahe and Kepler as a small effort to rectify this unfairness. Kitty Ferguson has made a larger effort with this book and I hope she is able to reach a large readership.

Ms. Ferguson has at least given herself a chance by writing a very good book. Her prose is very engaging. She is detailed both science and biography and yet she is quite easy to understand even for those without a scientific background. And she has two extraordinarily interesting characters to talk about--Brahe, the rather spoiled Danish aristocrat who brought glory to himself against the odds in a "ignoble" profession by becoming the greatest naked eye astronomer in history, and Kepler, the poor German Protestant school teacher who had a knack for doing mathematics and finding trouble.

Though I knew the broad outline of Brahe and Kepler's story, I was surprised again and again by all I did not know. I may not be able to incorporate it all into my classes but I am glad to know the story myself. It is always interesting to see how the great ideas came into being, mostly through more fits, starts and mistakes than most people realize. Anyone interested in scientific history would be foolish to pass up reading this book.

The Odd Couple Start Astronomy
Science needs observers to acquire data. Science also needs theoreticians to make comprehensive explanations of the data. In _Tycho & Kepler: The Unlikely Partnership that Forever Changed Our Understanding of the Universe_ (Walker), Kitty Ferguson has given a duel biography of exemplars from both aspects, two who founded modern astronomy. This was a peculiar and unlikely partnership, more of shared data than of friendship or cooperation. The story, however, is a fascinating one of detail within the Copernican revolution, and of the difficulties of doing science within the religions and politics of the time.

Tycho was a Danish nobleman, and was not supposed to have a career, much less a scientific one. His pursuit of documentation of the heavens was a rebellious break with the traditions of his society. He began keeping a logbook of astronomical observations when he was sixteen years old, and complained even then of the inaccuracy of the tables which were supposed to tell planetary positions. He also railed about the imprecision of the cross staff by which angular distance between stars was measured. Tycho was not satisfied with the Copernican system, although he knew the Earth-centered Ptolemaic one was wrong. He proposed the "Tychonic" system, wherein the Sun orbited the Earth, and the other planets orbited the Sun. He was welcomed by Emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire, who supported him in making a new observatory in Prague, but he died only four years later. Kepler's start was far different. Born near Stuttgart in 1571 into a peculiar and unnurturing commoner family, he was essentially rescued by the church. The Protestants were urging the importance of schooling, and he originally wanted to become a Lutheran minister. However, he became interested in the ideas of Copernicus, and became a mathematician and mathematics teacher in Graz. Religious persecution drove him out of Graz, and Tycho extended an invitation to join him in Prague. The invitation resulted in a year of stormy misunderstandings. The odd couple argued constantly, and Kepler at one point walked out. Tycho did not always show magnanimity, but in this case he relented, and became a little more generous with data. Only after Tycho's death did Kepler get all the data he needed, to start making his epochal laws of planetary movement. Kepler, building on Tycho's data, was one of the giants on whose shoulders Newton was to stand, giving us calculus and modern physics and cosmology.

Both Tycho and Kepler were largely working in a vacuum; there was no set scientific tradition for them to be working in, and at times they were more highly valued for their expertise in astrology; though both of them knew astronomy was more valuable, astrology sometimes paid the bills. Getting financial support from kingdoms was difficult and unreliable; at one point Ferguson writes, "Rudolph lavished praise on Kepler and granted him a bonus of two thousand talers, which would have been splendid had it been paid." Not only were they working against a religious tradition, but they were operating in societies ruled largely by religion and superstition. Kepler was extremely devout, but was chivied from place to place in his later years because he refused to insist on religious requirements for others. Kepler's mother herself was tried for witchcraft. Locating Tycho and Kepler firmly within their religious and political milieus, and demonstrating the enormous difficulty of doing science in their time, and in getting appreciation and support, Ferguson has given a wonderfully complex picture of the partnership of two main founders of astronomy.

Wild doings at the observatory
Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman, and Johannes Kepler, commoner, crossed paths during one of the times when scientific thought and philosophy was growing by huge leaps--the 17th Century or Age of Reason. Their story is set against the backdrop of the Counter-Reformation and some unsettled times in European history, not to mention the development of major ideas of cosmology.

But what's equally interesting are the life and times of these two scientists in the context of 17th Century daily life. Ferguson researches her subject and provides the reader with a story that is a cross between a soap opera and a historical fiction novel. Brahe's castle and observatory were not only architecturally interesting, the life inside the walls was fraught with nasty doings. Brahe, by all reports, had quite the temper. He may have even invented the modern day graduate student-slavey; he kept associates of lower social rank under his thumb for years, paid them a pittance, assigned them menial work, stole their intellectual property and literally imprisoned them in his palace.

If you have an interest in astronomy or philosophy or just plain European history from this era, you should read this. I couldn't put it down. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Lord of Uraniborg : A Biography of Tycho Brahe
Published in Hardcover by Cambridge University Press (October, 2002)
Authors: Victor E. Thoren and John Robert Christianson
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Excavating the heavens
Victor Thoren has done a remarkable job with what looks like relatively scant material. He draws as detailed a picture as possible not only of Tycho the astronomer and nobleman, but also the man. And it is in this latter department that his lack of material and references is sensed. Nevertheless, as far as the science and technology is concerned, he has done an excellent job in rebuilding for us all of Tycho's instruments and reconstructing the environment and atmosphere where these remarkable measurements were made.

This is not an "easy" read for the lay person, but will be rewarding eventually with a little determination.

"Uraniborg" Scholarly, Fascinating, and Comprehensive
"The Lord of Uraniborg" is a scholarly description of the life of Tycho Brahe, the eccentric and brilliant Danish astronomer whose work laid the foundation for the discovery of the motion of the planets by Johannes Kepler. Author Victor Thoren demolishes a number of myths about Brahe, while at the same time his exhaustive research into historical records reveals a number of fascinating aspects of Tycho's life.

In the case of Tycho Brahe, truth is both stranger and more entertaining than any fiction that has been created about him. For example, he did not die of a burst bladder following a night of excessive drinking. But he did die of uremia caused most likely by an enlarged prostate which prevented urination. His dying words to Kepler, "let me not seem to have lived in vain", could not have been scripted better for a man who sought immortality through science.

Readers should be aware that this book is not written in a style intended for the general public. It is a work of historical scholarship, and is packed with the kind of detail that some may find trivial. However, the sheer weight of these historical records (letters and official documents) helps to create a vivid and convincing portrait of this unique individual.

On Tycho's Island : Tycho Brahe and his Assistants, 1570-1601
Published in Hardcover by Cambridge University Press (December, 1999)
Author: John Robert Christianson
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A fascinating and scholarly study of Tycho Brahe.
16th century scientist Tycho Brahe receives relatively little mention in modern times: this explores his entire range of scientific activities which go beyond his better-known astronomical explorations. A well-rounded portrait of Brahe the man as well as his many scientific interests and his works on his private island is presented in a study which includes intriguing facts on his contemporaries.

Diane C. Donovan

An excellent book about the birth of big science
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Christianson's book about Tycho and the birth of Big Science on the Danish Renaissance island of Hven. The writing is fresh and interesting, the details of daily life are lively, the discussions of patronage and scientific method offer new insight into the pre-telescopic world of astronomy. The illustrations are excellent. The discussions of alchemy and astrology are facinating. I especially liked the story of Tycho's sister's sad romance and his daughter's failed engagement. The biographies of Tycho's "students" and their lives after Hven show the influences of his scientific method and the international character of the scientific world in the 16th and early 17th century. Highly reccommended.

A great combination of science and history
I found this book to be readable and informative. As a scientist and a history buff, I enjoyed Christianson's ability to combine the story of the birth of big science with the interesting details of Northern European Rennaisance life. Tycho's Island includes a cast of interesting characters, some who became the stars of the next generation of scientists and astronomers, some who were mapmakers, instrument makers, even printers and papermakers. The book also includes a picture of Rennaisance life that makes Tycho and his familia come alive to the modern reader. The details of marriage negotiations, castle building, entertaining and poetry makes the book a real page-turner. The short capsule biographies at the end of the book show the widespread influences of Tycho's brilliant work. Kepler may be the best-known member of this group of assistants, but he is just one of a number of interesting and important characters.

Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata = Exercices de l'astronomie rénovée : livre 1
Published in Unknown Binding by A. Blanchard ()
Author: Tycho Brahe
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Astronomical Instruments and Their Users: Tycho Brahe to William Lassell (Collected Studies, Cs 530.)
Published in Hardcover by Variorum (September, 1996)
Author: Allan Chapman
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David Gans, 1541-1613 : disciple du Maharal, assistant de Tycho Brahe et de Jean Kepler
Published in Unknown Binding by Klincksieck ()
Author: André Neher
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Den praktiske muse : Tycho Brahes brug af latindigtingen
Published in Unknown Binding by Museum Tusculanum ()
Author: Peter Zeeberg
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Gestaltwandel im Geschichtswerden : Julian Apostata, Herzeleide, Tycho de Brahe
Published in Unknown Binding by Mellinger ()
Author: Anna Margret Derbe
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Keplers Elegie in obitum Tychonis Brahe
Published in Unknown Binding by Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften : In Kommission bei der C.H. Beck'schen Verlagsbuchh. ()
Author: Johannes Kepler
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Le château des étoiles : étrange historie de Tycho Brahé, astronome et grand seigneur : roman
Published in Unknown Binding by Liana Levi ()
Author: Paul Chatel
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