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After Tycho Brahe described the 1572 supernova, he was awarded a island (called Ven or Hven) and money* to build a astronomical observatory by the king of Denmark. Built in 1580, this observatory was Uraniborg.

It was a castle in the Gothic Renaissance style (big with lots of sticking up bits). It had guest room, aviaries, fountains, formal gardens, orchards, its own paper mill, a print shop, English mastiffs to stand guard, a floor to ceiling mural of Tycho Brahe, and an onion dome topped with a gilt pegasus. He filled it with the best astronomical instuments money could buy.

Tycho put his observatory to good use, inventing new insruments to observe stars more precisely, which he used to observe the night sky every day for two decades.

Well -- not exactly. Six years after Uraniborg was built Tycho discovered that that it was too small and the balustrades supporting the equpment were too unstable, so he built another observatory, Stjerneborg, next door ("seventy small double steps" away). This one was also pretty fancy.

But despite being a good astronomer, Tycho wasn't much of a landlord, and after a falling out with the new king, Tycho Brahe left Hven and Denmark to travel Europe.

* Lots of money. About 1% of Denmark's national budget, making it the largest subsidy ever given by a government to a scientific project.

For pictures and floor plans of Uraniborg goto

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