Tycho Brahe lost most of his nose in a drunken duel, he never formally married his wife (Danish law prohibited marriage between nobles and commoners), and at one time he controlled an estimated 1% of the entire wealth of Denmark. He also gave astronomy the first set of data accurate enough to determine the motions of the planets. His work made possible the discovery of the laws of orbiting bodies and these ushered in modern astronomy. Modern astronomers would call him an "astrometrist," that is, he measured the positions of the stars and planets, but he measured them so accurately that his value for the length of the year varied from the current one by about a second. The incredible thing is that he obtained his measure without the use of either telescopes or clocks. This accurate and informative volume tells Tycho's story well, if not beautifully, and is very much worth having. It shares its only real fault with almost all children's science books: that is, the book fails to place its hero's life in a larger context. Tycho was born the same year as Martin Luther and William Shakespeare. He was eighteen when Galileo was born and Michelangelo died. He died five years before Rembrandt was born. Knowing how he fits with famous people from other disciplines makes it easier for kids to remember details of his life (and theirs). But that's a small criticism and the book should prove very useful to any child-or adult-who reads it. 2003, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Ages 10 to 14.
Every year, school and public libraries alike are flooded with students asking for scientist biographies. Thanks to biographer Boerst, these fine new biographies give students access to two lesser known but important names. In clear and concise language, Boerst chronicles the lives of Renaissance astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, painting a realistic picture of his subjects and detailing both their successes and their failures. The volume on Kepler speaks of his fierce competitive spirit, his impoverished and haphazard upbringing by a mother whom he described as "swarthy, gossiping, and quarrelsome," and his endless mission to prove that the planets moved around the sun, not Earth. In the volume about Brahe, readers learn of his privileged upbringing, his frowned-upon marriage to a commoner, and the building of the first research facility dedicated to astronomy, Uraniborg. It was only through Brahe's observations that Kepler was able to create his three laws of celestial motion, which Sir Isaac Newton used to complete his studies on gravity. Other Renaissance Scientists series titles profile Galileo, Copernicus, and Isaac Newton. These slim volumes will be welcome in both public and school library biography collections. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Morgan Reynolds, 144p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Charts. Biblio. Source Notes., PLB. Ages 11 to 15.
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Gr 6-9-Scion of a noble Danish family, Brahe combined a passion for accurate observations of the position and motions of heavenly objects with the wealth to do the job right. He is portrayed as a demanding, secretive, temperamental genius-a colorful character who wore an artificial nose (having lost his original one in a duel), and whose interest in physical astronomy was sparked by irritation over the inaccuracies of the planetary tables of Ptolemy and Copernicus. Traveling from one royal patron to another, Brahe built state-of-the-art observatories, amassing the data that later allowed Johannes Kepler, his most brilliant protege, to develop a heliocentric model of the solar system, and to formulate the Laws of Planetary Motion. Boerst describes how quadrants, armillaries, and other scientific instruments of the day were actually used, as well as Brahe's private life and career, in some detail, then appends lists of books and Web sites for readers who want to know more about this quirky, seminal figure. A generous selection of prints and drawings, many contemporary and some in color, brings the man and his achievements to life even more successfully than Mary Gow's Tycho Brahe: Astronomer (Enslow, 2002). This book will effectively raise the profile of a researcher whose significant contributions to the history of science are often lost in the glow surrounding those of Kepler and Galileo.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.