Tale of The Noseless Man

It is hard trudging through the development of astronomy throughout the decades without having controversies here and there. The astronomy world has many vivid figures, but nobody quite dramatic like Tycho Brahe. The man known to be genius but eccentric, wealthy but weak mathematics-wise.

He was about two when he was taken away from his parents – who were strangely alright with it – by his uncle who was a rich Danish noble. When his uncle died, Brahe was the one who inherited all of his uncle’s property, leaving him to live in a castle with bunch of weird entertainers and people he hired (talk about eccentricity).

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Noseless man with heaping astronomical skills. Taken in IMAGE

The tale of his missing nose started with his lack of skills in mathematics and foul temper. He was having a disagreement with a Danish named Manderup Parsbjerg over a mathematics formula and due to scarce resources, they ended up having a sword fight to death. The duel resulted in Brahe having his nose sliced off. Thus, he was said to wear prosthetic nose and keep around some gold and silver noses for special occasions.

The solar eclipse that happened around 1560 boost Brahe’s interest towards researching astronomy. Having tonnes of wealth around him, he managed to build a protractor-like seat to observe the stars from a small rectangle hole on the wall (which is hard and needs a lot of concentration and patience). He was known to be the naked-eye observer as he would sit on the protractor as his assistant would adjust the angle of the seat as he instructed. His observation was able to prove Copernicus’ Saturn and Jupiter alignment and from that day onward, he aspired to compile astronomical predictions and readings as it was prized data at that time.

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Descriptive image of how Brahe was observing the stars. Taken in TYCHONOSE (they have a great article about him, so go check it out!)

His astronomical tables were so sought after that the king of Denmark wanted to keep him. His data was proven to be scientific and vital as it was accurate and reliable.  Tycho Brahe was definitely one of the early astronomer who helped discover the cosmos, bringing one piece on information to another thus connecting them into strings of fact. He was indeed remarkable, as a man without a nose.

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10 thoughts on “Tale of The Noseless Man

  1. This was a great post! I love the details you included that explain some of the mystery behind the man who left such a profound mark on the Astronomical world at the time. When you said that he definitely helped “discover the cosmos” do you simply mean that he made big strides in understanding the greater universal construction because of his abilities to see things with his naked eye so profoundly well? Really wonderful post about a fascinating man!

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    1. Thank you! I’m glad you like it! It was fun writing about him as I view him as a witty person but at the same time inspirational. He had a lifelong obsession for stars and would sit for so long just to observe, so the collection of data he made became so legendary for they are so accurate. His observation becomes the raw data of Kepler’s calculations and formulae (look at how important it was!) that when he died, his last words to Kepler was “Let me not seem to have lived in vain” and his wish was absolutely granted!

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  2. It’s always interesting to read about quirky famous historical figures. In a way, it shows how important these rather eccentric people are to various areas of study; in this case, astronomy. If this “noseless” man hadn’t built “a protractor-like seat to observe the stars from a small rectangle hole on the wall” and made all of those tedious observations, who knows how long it would have taken other astronomers to come up with his data? I also very much enjoyed the images that went along with you post!

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  3. Glad that you like it! YES he was very much quirky and witty but those aside, he had really been a big helping hand in the development of astronomy! His data was very much a treasure that brought a lot theories together back then.

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  4. Such a cool historical figure! Thanks for outlining his story, I enjoyed reading up on Brahe. I’ve learned from another Astronomy class that Brahe died because he was at a banquet and refused to use the restroom for the meal, not wanting to be rude. This led to bladder problems and infections and he eventually died because of complications with this. Do you know if this is correct or just a myth trying to make him seem even more eccentric than he already was? Thanks!

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    1. Oh yes, I’ve heard of that before – he was unable to pee until it eventually harmed his body – but some researchers said that there were remnants of mercury on different parts of his body, which proved him to had toxic poisoning. If that was the real deal, then it would be murder! I’m not sure which story is true, but many is inclined to saying that he is murdered – jealousy towards his wealthy life and astronomical data that everybody wanted to get their hands on – but his death is still investigated. Thank you for reading!

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  5. I really like this post. ive heard about this story but yours is more detailed but not too lengthy. your post made this story very interesting and i look forward for more stories of other well-known astronomer from your blog.

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  6. I tried to keep the story short and sweet but there is still so many details that are missing out, such as the cause of his death (in which researchers are still debating about). Thank you! I will try to find another interesting figure to write about!

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