The Stars Make You Crazy


Tycho Brahe is the father of modern astronomy. His efforts and pedantically annoying insistence on making observations as accurate as possible cleared the way for the works of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, two men whose work sparked a scientific revolution which continues to this very day. Of course, he was also crazy as shit.

Tycho was born to minor Danish nobles in the mid-sixteenth century. Originally one of a set of twins, Tycho’s dear old dad made a deal with his childless brother whereas when the twins were born, one would be handed over to the brother to be raised as his own. Unfortunately, things didn’t really go as planned after Tycho’s twin brother died soon after being born. Suddenly not having a spare on hand, Tycho’s father reneged on the whole deal. This didn’t sit well with Tycho’s still childless uncle, who after stewing in his anger for two years, simply went over and kidnapped his young nephew. After the deed was done, everyone amazingly enough decided that they were pretty a-okay with this chain of events, which probably had something to do with Tycho’s mother recently giving birth to another child. Tycho was raised by his uncle, which was pretty lucky for him given the fact that his uncle was rich as all get out.

Being the heir of a rich ass shit guy, Tycho attended the best of schools, eventually deciding to study astronomy after seeing a solar eclipse at the age of 14. Tycho’s uncle wasn’t too down with the idea of a career in stargazing, especially since at the time most astronomy was used to make horoscopes. However, Tycho got around this problem by attending university in Germany and lying about what he was studying. This might have caused some problems later, but luckily Tycho’s uncle soon after died saving the King of Denmark, Frederick II, from drowning in the river while drunk. Tycho inherited all of his uncle’s fortune, which he celebrated by getting into a sword duel with a fellow student over mathematical equations. The duel didn’t go so well for Tycho in that his nose got cut off. However, being rich as balls, he simply had a new one made out of brass and attached by glue. Though this being the fifteenth century and all, the glue wasn’t that great so his nose kept falling off at inopportune times.

With his studies completed, Tycho returned to Denmark, built himself an observatory, and began making measurements of the movements of the heavenly bodies five times more accurate than the best available observations of the time using tools of his own design. When not sciencing it up, Tycho kept himself busy by knocking up the local minister’s daughter, who he was not allowed to marry under Danish law because nobles were not allowed to marry commoners, though it was legally speaking totally cool to fuck and impregnate them. Eventually, Tycho became well known in astronomy circles, which caught the attention of King Frederick II, who wanted Tycho to do his wife’s horoscope. Though he wasn’t really a believer in astrology, Tycho agreed, probably because doing stuff for the king was never a bad idea. It probably didn’t hurt that he started having an affair with the queen soon after. After a few years of these shenanigans, the king gave Tycho an island to build a new observatory and rule as his very own, which is a pretty sweet deal given that most people who aren’t kings who fuck queens get their heads cut off.

Tycho built himself a pretty sweet ass observatory and castle on his new island, which included a torture chamber to deal with any of the locals who didn’t like his iron fisted and bronze nosed rule. Tycho made his island a major center of astronomy, educating well over a hundred students there over the next several decades. He as well dabbled in alchemy, trying to invent a cure-all medicine, as all learned men of the day did, and threw some pretty crazy parties. To keep himself entertained, Tycho had a half mad dwarf named Jeppe who lived under his dining room table. For god only knows what reason Tycho was convinced Jeppe was psychic and clairvoyant. Tycho also had a tamed 800 pound elk which would follow him around like a dog. Unfortunately, at one particularly wild party, the elk died after getting drunk and falling down a flight of stairs.

Tycho’s good times couldn’t last forever. When King Frederick II died, his son, Christian IV proved less than generous. For one thing, he wasn’t really a big believer in horoscopes, and for another, he probably wasn’t all that happy with Tycho for boning his mother. Not liking the way the winds were blowing, Tycho fled Denmark and took up residence in Prague, where he became court astronomer for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Unfortunately for Tycho, in Prague it was customary to not leave the table before the king, which caused some difficulties given that Tycho drank like a fish and the king apparently had a bladder the size of a Buick. After only a few years in Prague, Tycho died of a bladder infection brought on by holding his pee too long. His assistant, Johannes Kepler, soon after stole all of his scientific notes and papers, and as they say, the rest is history.