Visualizing Tycho Brahe's Mars Data

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Tycho BraheWelcome...

This site is devoted to "Visualizing Tycho Brahe's Mars Observations." It contains the raw data collected by Tycho during twenty years of observing Mars. It also contains numerous scientific visualizations of this data. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Why is this important?

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a famous Danish Astronomer who dedicated himself to obtaining astronomical observations of unprecidented accuracy. Johannes Kepler (15711630) used his observations of Mars to uncover the "true" nature of the solar system (the planets travel in ellipses around the sun sweeping out equal areas in equal times). Building on this knowledge, Isaac Newton (16421727) later deduced the fundamental mechanisms underlying these celestial motions. His Three Laws of Motion (uniform motion, force=mass * acceleration, action-reaction), and his Law of Universal Gravitation, therefore flow directly from Tycho Brahe's original Mars observations. Tycho's data therefore occupies a privelleged position in western science.

What is here?

Tycho's NoseWhat isn't here?

This site does not discuss how Kepler used Tycho's observations to uncover the "true" celestial motions. If you are interested in that story (and it is an interesting story); please consult Kepler's book, New Astronomy, or Curtis Wilson's article How Did Kepler Discover His First Two Laws?. Furthermore, this site does not contain very much biographic information about Tycho. For a more complete discussion of Tycho's life and times please refer to the web sites referenced in the Works Cited page.

How was this site created?

This site was created as a final project for a Scientific Visualization Class (SciC8011) at the University of Minnesota (Instructor: Paul Morin). It involved encoding over eight hundred separate observations into Microsoft Excel, a popular spreadsheet program. These observations were transferred directly from Tychonis Brahe Dani Opera Omnia, a series of 15 volumes containing Tycho's notebook entries in their original Latin. Furtheremore, Redshit II, a popular astronomy program, was used to produce an Ephemeris Report (calculated positions of Mars) which was used for several of the visualizations. Redshift II also produced some of the "night sky" animation sequences displayed at this site.

About the Author

Wayne Pafko is a graduate student in Scientific and Technical Communication at the University of Minnesota. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from the same institution in 1997. He is currently employed as a food process engineer for Schwan's in Marshall, MN.

Comments about this site are always welcomed. The author can be contacted at:

Copyright 2000, Wayne Pafko