Tycho Brahe: Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica

Nüremberg: Levinus Hulsius, 1602
Sp Coll Ea8-x.15 

The Mechanica is a monument to the observatory of the great Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). It was first published in 1598; this is the second edition of 1602. Generously illustrated, the Mechanica describes and depicts the numerous instruments used by Tycho. It also provides ground plans of Tycho’s Uraniborg laboratory, Stjerneborg observatory and a map of Hven island, where they were situated. Because of conflict with his royal patron, Tycho had left Hven in 1597, eventually settling in Prague, where he died in 1601.

Tycho rejected Copernicus’ assertion that the earth rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun. He proposed an alternative geocentric system in which the sun revolved around a static earth but was the centre of the other planets’ orbits. The thoroughness and accuracy of Tycho’s work set a new standard for astronomical observation and facilitated the theoretical advances made later by his assistant, Johannes Kepler.

Illustration of Tycho's Observatory from 'Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica'
an engraved illustration of Tycho in his observatory, surrounded by his various instruments.

Go to the next book in the exhibition: Johann Bayer: Uranometria