Explore The Universe

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Tycho Armillary Sphere
Tycho Armillary Sphere (115k JPEG)
Armillary spheres large and small were used for centuries to study the sky and to teach about the celestial coordinate system, which astronomers used to locate objects in the sky. This is a full-scale replica of an armillary sphere built and used by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in the late 1500s. An observer could use its moveable rings and sighting devices to measure the position of a celestial object or differences between the positions of two objects.

Lent by the National Museum of American History

Tycho Brahe: A Master Observer

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe's observations of the bright new star that appeared in the sky of 1572 proved the heavens were not changeless. His observations of a comet in 1577 proved that comets moved about freely through the realm of the planets, a discovery that shattered the centuries-old notion of solid, transparent heavenly spheres.

Indeed, observing was Tycho's passion, and precision was his obsession. Supported by the king of Denmark, he built two major observatories and filled them with the finest instruments, many of which he designed himself. He cataloged the positions of a thousand stars and tracked the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. The accuracy of his measurements remained unsurpassed until the invention of the telescope.


Other Featured Artifacts in this section of the exhibit:
Astrolabes and Quadrants


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