Lifting the lid on Tycho’s mystery

Researchers are close to getting approval to open the grave of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in Prague

August 21st, 2008 12:00 pm| by admin
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Danish researchers may soon receive permission to open the grave of famed Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to determine how he really died.

Jens Vellev from the University of Aarhus has been striving for many years to get permission from the Czech authorities to open the grave, which is located in a Prague church.

'The meeting went well and it all looks very promising. Many institutions in Prague were supportive of reopening the tomb,' he told science website Videnskab.dk.


Vellev said that the Prague city museum, the national Czech museum and the parish priest at the Tyn church where Brahe is buried all showed much interest in the project.

If the Danish researchers get official permission, they hope to solve the mystery of Brahe's death.

The astronomer died on 24 October, 1601 after suddenly becoming ill. Some suggest he died of a bladder infection, while others say his assistant poisoned him with mercury to steal his data and observations.

Scientists plan to use CT scanners as well as conduct tests on Brahe's clothes and skeleton for any signs of poisoning.

They also hope to determine what material Brahe's nose was made of. The astronomer lost part of his nose in a duel as a young man and wore a prosthetic for the rest of his life.

The Danish researchers hope to start their investigations at the end of 2009. The tomb was last opened in 1901 on the 300th anniversary of Brahe's death.