Tycho Brahe's observatory, Uraniborg, Denmark, c 1580.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1576 Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) established his Uraniborg ('Castle of the Heavens') Observatory on the island of Hven, or Ven, now in Sweden. There, he made naked-eye observations that formed the basis of the first new star catalogue since Antiquity, successfully measuring the positions of 777 stars with such accuracy as to provide a vital source of information for later astronomers. Though Brahe did not believe the Earth moved around the Sun, his work provided support for the opposing view, known as the heliocentric system, proposed by Copernicus in 1543. Illustration from Brahe's 'Astronomiae instauratae mechanica' (in English, 'Instruments of the renewed astronomy' or 'Apparatus for the Foundation of Astronomy'), (Nuremberg, 1602).