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Tycho and Kepler - Book Review - Astronomical History

Book Reviews
Tycho and Kepler -The Unlikely Partnership That Forever Changed Our Understanding Of The Heavens
By Kitty Ferguson
Copyright 2002 Walker & Co. New York

Tycho Brahe ranks among the most noteworthy of all the men in history, right alongside Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo. This book by Kitty Ferguson delves deep into the life of Tyge Brahe (pronounced "teeguh" - his real name before he Latinized it to Tycho) and his Danish ancestry to tell a personable tale of a man obsessed with the night sky. Tycho's life and times provide the reader with so much information about the preCopernican misconceptions of the universe that one has to wonder where mankind would be today if not for this man and his research.

Tycho was born into Danish nobility, yet turned his back on his nobility to pursue his dream of measuring the stars and motions of the planets to an accuracy never before achieved. All of Europe beheld him as a great scientist and thinker while he made his observations from a tiny island just off the northern coast of Denmark known as Hven. There, Tycho constructed a great house which was intricately laid out to the four cardinal directions and incorporated into it a myriad of other connections to the mathematics of the heavens.

He employed craftsmen and artisans from all over Europe to construct the instruments he used to make his observations. Ferguson spent a great deal of time in Europe herself, tracking down the information which brings Tycho to life as a scientist, father, husband and an eccentric human being. Ferguson also reveals the sheer chance connections between Tycho and Johannes Kepler. It would seem that these two men would have never had anything in common, and might never have been brought together in history if not for circumstances which seem to have guided them into a collaboration that literally changed the way mankind sees the universe today.

This book is an easy read, and not only did I eagerly anticipate the turning of nearly every page, I also came to feel like I'd known them both as if they'd lived in our own modern times. I highly recommend this book to all our members.

Reviewed by Bob Moody
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