Making Tycho Brahe’s Sky Accessible to Future Astronomers

By Bertil F. Dorch, Jakob Povl Holck, Kaare Lund Rasmussen & Majken Brahe Ellegaard Christensen

Published in Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union no. 349
DOI: 10.1017/S1743921319000693


Can we make a copy of Tycho’s “De Nova Stella” that can in fact survive a nova? At first, this may seem at best a nerdish, if not distinctly foolish question. However, it is also both a technological and a philosophical question: in fact, answering questions like this is linked to both technical, physical and sociological problems related to the long-term preservation and curation of objects from current and past civilizations.

The undertaking presented here is two-fold: Firstly, we report on the results from a state-of the art short-term project, in which we have digitized and analysed three well-known rare books Pertain ing to astronomical observations by Tycho Brahe on the island of Hven. The project led to the creation of free e-books, enabling open access to the sky as recorded by Tycho.

Secondly, we discuss some long-term issues related to the digital and physical preservation of scientific knowledge and heritage in general, exemplified by e.g. the works by Tycho.

Future work includes further physical analysis of the books and fragments, a systematic extraction and digitization of the astronomical observations, digital curation and dissemination, as well as research into the possibility of creating representations and replicas of the works, durable on extremely long time-scales.

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