Posted by Lydia on February 12th, 2010
The world will soon know what killed Denmark’s most famous astronomer in 1601 as permission has finally been granted by Prague’s cultural department after years of requests to both the City Council and the Catholic Church, which owns Tyn Cathedral where Brahe’s remains lie.
Brahe’s remains will be examined by Danish and Czech experts who will perform extensive analyses on remaining bone, hair and clothing fragments to determine if he died as a consequence of bladder problems, kidney stones or intentional or accidental mercury poisoning.
Tycho Brahe, a contemporary of Johanes Kepler, Nostradamus and Queen Elizabeth I, observed and documented one of the first naked eye supernova on November 11, 1572. This star, in the constellation Cassiopeia shone as bright as Jupiter and Venus at -4.5 magnitude and was also visible during daytime hours. This Type Ia supernova was visible for an astonishing sixteen months and eventually faded from view in March of 1574. Brahe’s written description of the activity of this supernova led to the abandonment of the erroneous idea of the immutability of the heavens. Tycho Brahe also made extremely accurate documented observations of stars without the aid of a telescope which later enabled Kepler to formulate his three laws of planetary motion.
The astronomy community awaits the investigative results from this centuries old cold case mystery. For more see here.