Instruments for the Restoration of Astronomy


Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) was a Danish astronomer who built the best observatory in Europe and set a new standard for accurate celestial observations in the era before the invention of the telescope. His noble birth enabled him to pursue his true interests in the humanities and the sciences, particularly astronomy. He became adept at designing scientific instruments and making observations during his early travels in Europe. Upon his return to Denmark he won favor with King Frederick II, who provided him with monetary support to continue his astronomical researches and gave him the small island of Hven in the Danish straits, where Tycho began construction of his observatory complex. For his observatory, he designed massive instruments with which he hoped to obtain the most accurate observations ever. King Frederick died in 1588, and his successors at the royal court were less supportive of Tycho. In 1597, Tycho left Hven for northern Germany, where he began work on a book intended to be a showcase of his instruments, highlighting their superiority and how they would provide the measurements which would lead to “restored astronomy.” In addition to text, the book featured plans and illustrations of Tycho’s instruments. Tycho completed the work in January 1598, and had 100 copies produced by the Hamburg printer Philip von Ohrs. Tycho dedicated the book to the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, in hopes of gaining his patronage. Rudolf enthusiastically took Tycho into his favor and in 1598 provided him with a castle near Prague to further his astronomical work. Tycho’s death in 1601 cut short by his work, and it was left to his assistants, including the great German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), to continue his systematic observations of the planets and stars. Shown here is the 1602 edition of Tycho’s work, produced in Nuremberg by the printer Levinus Hulsius.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Levinus Hulsius, Nuremberg


Title in Original Language

Astronomiæ instauratæ mechanica

Type of Item

Physical Description

[107] pages : illustrations, maps, plans ; 33 centimeters

Last updated: September 18, 2015