St. Peter Museum of Astronomy

Famous Renaissance Astronomers

Introduction to famous Astronomers

In the 16th century during the Renaissance the stars and the Earth were still a big mystery to all. When four, now famous, astronomers came along named Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler who gave us a whole new understanding of how our world and the Solar System worked.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Nicolaus was born February 19, 1473 in Royal Prussia. He was a astronomer, mathematician, studied in medicine and studied in politics. Nicolaus identified the concept of a heliocentric solar system and made his own planetary system. He also discovered the Earth spins daily and is rotates slowly on its axis creating the equinoxes. Before he died he was tried for heresy against the church and one of his most famous books De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium was banned for almost 3 centuries. Years after he died the ban on his book was lifted and published.

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)

Tycho was born December 14, 1546 in Scania which is part of modern day Sweden. He was known as an astronomer, astrologer, and an alchemist. Tycho was one of the last major astronomer who studied the stars with the naked eye. He disproved the Aristotelian belief of an unchanging celestial realm by discovering that stars are not tailless comets but are in a fixed position above the atmosphere. Later he got his own estate on the island of Hven and was later invited by the Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II to become the official imperial astronomer.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Galileo was born February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy. He was a physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who is named the "father of astronomy". Galileo contributed to astronomy with the discovery of the three largest satellites on Jupiter, the telescope confirmation of the phases of Venus, and the gathering of information on sun spots. He believed in heliocentrism, or the belief that the Earth rotates around the Sun. Some of his discoveries sparked controversy between people and in Church's because during the time everyone believed the Earth was the center on the universe. Because of this Galileo was house bound but that still didn't stop him from furthering his research.

Johannaes Kepler (1571-1630)

Johanneas was born December 27, 1571 in the Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt. He was known as a astronomer, astrologist, mathematician, and studied natural philosophy. Johanneas worked along side with Tycho Brahe as Emperor Rudolph II official imperial astronomer. He discovered that planets do not rotate around the Sun in a perfect circle but in an oval shape called an ellipses. Brahe unwittingly helped Kepler banish the theory of circular rotations and correct the theory of the Solar System.