Tycho Brahe - the man with a golden nose

On the Glatter Aal, a square in Rostock named after an old tavern, there is a man with a golden nose. It also has a famous sundial, which may not be there for much longer, as the open space is supposed to be getting built over again.

On the southern wall of the Volks- und Raffeisenbank building, there is a sundial over the bronze Brahe relief, with signs of the zodiac. It was the decision of the bank to inaugurate the Tycho Brahe memorial (idea, project management: Dr. Hartmut Schmied) on Friday 13th, which was incidentally a new moon, and thereby defy the in his time superstitious astronomers Brahe (1546-1601). Just as the inauguration was taking place in the morning of 13th September 1996, the sun emerged through the cloud cover and shined for a short period of time on the sundial. Three months and one day later it was Brahe’s 450th Birthday - the main reason for his tribute.

Tycho Brahe had less luck as a student at Rostock University during his dispute on the evening of 29th December 1566. He was arguing with another Danish nobleman about who was the better mathematician. Posterity now knows that Brahe was the better one. However, on this cold winter’s evening, the argument turned into a duel, supposedly in the cemetery at Rostock’s Marienkirche, during which Brahe lost both the fight and part of his nose. Thanks to Brahe’s close connections to Rostock’s medical professors, he soon had a new nose - made from a gold-silver alloy. The dashing researcher constantly has to stick this prosthetic nose on with an ointment.

Prof. Jo Jastram, a sculptor from Kneese, created a monument with a relief, sundial and board commemorating the duel, which has lots of cultural and historical potential. With his Tychonic system, pictured on the sundial, Tycho Brahe shifted between a geocentric and heliocentric understanding of the world. The calculations of the sundial were carried out by Arnold Zenkert (Work Group of the German Chronometry Society).

A good viewing spot would be from the southern side of the Volks- und Raiffeisenbank building in Rostock on the Glatter Aal, near the city hall.

Picture caption: Relief with the portrait of astronomer Tycho Brahe; Sculptor: Prof. Jo Jastram

Text, photo: Dr. Hartmut Schmied, www.hartmut­schmied.com

Further fables and legends about Rostock and the area can be found in: Hartmut Schmied, Geister, Götter, Teufelssteine (Ghosts, Gods, Devil’s Stones). Sagen­ und Legendenführer Mecklenburg­Vorpommern (Fable and Legend Guide Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Hinstorff Verlag, Rostock 2011 (sold at the tourist information desk) and at www.cryptoneum.de (CRYPTONEUM Legenden­Museum Rostock).

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Tycho Brahe - the man with a golden nose


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