Tycho Brahe

Today in Mailbox: Christmas greetings and carols, comments on Radio Prague's Facebook page, answers to our listeners' competition, a brand new question for the coming weeks. Listeners/readers quoted: Pamela Carley, Igor Lepetsky, Andy Alexander, Markéta Hradecká, Barbara M. Ziemba, Paul R Peacock, Ian Morrison, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Hans Verner Lollike, Charles Konecny.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s programme for your views, questions and comments.

Thank you so much for the many Christmas greetings that have been arriving both by e-mail and regular post. We have also received this touching message from Pamela Carley from the US state of Connecticut who listened to the traditional Czech Christmas carol “Půjdem spolu do Betléma” on our website:

“When I was a girl 50 years ago, I sang this song in a Christmas pageant in New York State at a convent boarding school. We sang it in Czech and I still remember the words in Czech – have always kept it in my head – (though I do not know a word of Czech) so I was thrilled to find this site today and have been listening over and over again to the carols. It's like a dream that became real. Thank you.”

And thank you for letting us know. It’s good to hear that the Christmas carols recorded by our impromptu Radio Prague choir ten years ago are still making our listeners happy. We are also glad that you keep posting comments on our Facebook page.

Igor Lepetsky wrote: “You are my favorite station, Radio Prague. Now I’m listening to you via WRN.”

Andy Alexander: “Thank you for making the remembrances of Lidice available.”

'Blue Tiger',  photo: Czech Television
And responding to our story on the “Blue Tiger” movie, Markéta Hradecká says:

“I've bought the DVD and seen this film at least 6 times already – still LOVE it! Definitely my cup of tea!”

Many thanks for those comments and please keep them coming. Now let’s proceed on to your answers to our quiz question from last month. Barbara M. Ziemba from the United States wrote:

“The astronomer and alchemist, Tycho Ottesen Brahe is the Danish nobleman scientist we are looking for this month. He was born on December 14, 1546 at Knutstorp Castle in Scania which, at that time was a part of Denmark. His parents were Otto Brahe & Beate Bille; both of whom were born of nobility.

“Tycho was well educated and developed an interest in astronomy at an early age after seeing the solar eclipse of August 21, 1560. This especially drew his fascination as it had been predicted.

“Tycho's interest in alchemy began when he lost his nose in a sword duel in Germany while he was studying at the University of Rostock. It was said that he wore a prosthetic made of silver and gold attached to his face using a paste. During exhumation of his body in 2012 researchers analyzed a sample bone from his nose and determined the prosthetic to have been made out of brass.

Tycho Brahe
“There have been several theories over his death from physical ailments to murder by poisoning. In 2010 his body was exhumed by a team of Czech and Danish scientists. Their findings were that he ‘most likely died of a burst bladder.’

“Tycho's died on October 24, 1601 and his body lays in rest at Our Lady of Týn Church in Prague's Old Town Square.”

Paul R Peacock from Australia wrote:

“Tycho Brahe is the Danish nobleman and scientist born 14th December 1546 in Scania. He was actually born Tyge Ottesen Brahe. A very influential astronomer with a number of sites named after him such as craters on Mars and the moon. He designed and built instruments that accurately plotted the positions of stars and planets and also has a planetarium named after him in Denmark.

“At the age of 20 he lost the bridge of his nose whilst duelling with his third cousin, a fellow Danish nobleman. It was from this event that he became interested in medicine and alchemy. He had what today we call a ‘defacto relationship’ with Kirsten Jorgensdatter, the daughter of a Lutheran minister and this relationship lasted almost 30 years and resulted in 8 children.

“Whilst attending a banquet in Prague, Tycho contracted either a kidney or bladder infection and it was believed that this caused his death only 11 days later on 24 October 1601.”

Opening Tycho Brahe's tomb in 2010,  photo: Barbora Kmentová
Ian Morrison from China writes:

“He was born as Tyge Ottesen Brahe. His birthplace of Scania is in today's Sweden, which was then a part of Denmark. A monument in Prague commemorates Brahe alongside the German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Johannes Kepler.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India sent us this answer:

“Often referred to as the father of modern astronomy, Tycho Brahe's contribution to astronomy is immeasurable. This Danish scientist made modern planetary discoveries possible by his pioneering work towards developing astronomical instruments and positioning and measuring of stellar bodies. His almost accurate observations were made at a time when the telescope had not been invented which has baffled the modern astronomy community.”

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark:

“On the same day as I read in my daily paper that Czech and Danish scientists have concluded their research about Tycho Brahe, you posed the quiz on the internet. This was of course easy for me. I am not an expert on Tycho Brahe, but I had spent a whole day on the Island of Hven that lies between Denmark and Sweden, and now belongs to Sweden, where the presentation of his life and work is available. I have also visited his grave and seen the house in which he lived in Prague.

“I am also mailing a letter where you will find the Danish Newspaper clipping, and a First Day Stamp cover with two Danish and two Chinese Stamps in a joint issue. The item is Astronomy and the Danish astronomer is of course Tycho Brahe. I hope someone in your radio building is a stamp collector and will appreciate them.”

Charles Konecny from the US state of Ohio wrote:

“Brahe was born into a noble Danish family and he made the most of his university years. While studying law, he developed a passion for the heavens after observing a solar eclipse. So much so that he threw himself into the study of astronomy. Not to be out-done, he would later take up medicine and alchemy. But astronomy was his thing and over the years his observations of the stars and planets would bring him much acclaim, and although he wasn't always right, he was regarded as one of the most brilliant astronomers and scientists of his time. Over the years, he began to lose favor with the Danish royals so he subsequently moved his research to Prague where he continued his work until his untimely death. I wonder if he could get an award for the scientist with the most children........8.”

Many thanks for your answers and this time the lucky winner is Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark. Congratulations, your prize will be mailed first thing on Monday. And here is another question for the coming weeks:

We are looking for the name of the Czech inventor born in 1793 in the town of Chrudim who designed and patented one of the first working screw propellers.

Please send us your answers by the middle of January to the usual address, [email protected], along with your questions, comments and reception reports. There will be a small prize for one of you. In the meantime, if you celebrate Christmas, enjoy the festive season, and I wish you all the best in 2013. Mailbox will be back next year.