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Tycho Brahe, Astronomical Instruments (1598)

Tycho Brahe, The great steel quadrant (1588)

Born in 1546 in Denmark, Tycho Brahe served as an astronomer for the king of Denmark, and later, for the Holy Roman Emperor in Prague. He was well known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was also a pretty eccentric character: Tycho Brahe famously lost his nose in a sword duel (supposedly a quarrel with another student over who was the better mathematician), and attached a metal nose in its place.

A heavy drinker, who threw legendary parties, he also kept a dwarf called Jepp who Brahe believed could see the future. He also had a tame elk, which was supposedly given too much beer at one of the feasts, and fell down the stairs to its tragic death.

The images are astronomical insruments from Tycho Brahe’s Astronomiæ instauratæ mecanica, Wandsbek 1598. The Royal Library of Denmark, who had this particular edition digitized, released it as CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 (allowing no commercial use). Non-colored editions of the book are available at

Tycho Brahe, Small Quadrant

Tycho Brahe, The medium sized quadrant (1580)

Tycho Brahe, Another quadrant of brass

Tycho Brahe, The astronomical sextant for altitudes

Tycho Brahe, The revolving azimuth quadrant (1586)

Tycho Brahe, The zodiacal armillary sphere (1581)

The bipartite arc for small angles (1583)

Tycho Brahe, The sextant of Herrevadskloster (1572)

Tycho Brahe, The great brass globe (1584)

For a full list of the instruments with details, please click here.

Source: The Royal Library (Denmark)

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