Need for Change in Observational Accuracy

In 1562, after three years in Copenhagen, Brahe left for the University of Leipzig, in Germany, with a personal tutor named Anders Sorensen Vedel (who later became a famous Danish historian). At Leipzig, Brahe continued his classical studies under the directions of his tutor. When Vedel was not around, however, he remained faithful to his study of astronomy. As time passed and he became more familiar with the heavens, Brahe was able to locate and name all the constellations. He began to keep track of the movements of the planets. Upon comparing his data with that of Ptolemy, whose predictions were sometimes off by as much as a month, and Copernicus, whose predictions could be off by days, Brahe realized that there was still a tremendous amount of work to be done in terms of accurate predictions.

No longer willing to keep his love of astronomy secret, he decided to take a first step away from the education that had been chosen for him. Brahe did this by enrolling in an astrology course. It was not long before he began to formulate horoscopes for important men. He also began a notebook on celestial observations, the first of what would become many of his observation logs. His goal was to work out the most accurate planetary predictions that had ever been. He began this first log in late summer 1563.

His studies in law began to suffer as his interest in a life dedicated to the study of astronomy surfaced. His tutor tried to keep the now 17-year-old boy on task, but it was of no use. Brahe was headstrong, and astronomy was in his blood. Finally, the tutor gave up, saying Brahe was a hopeless case; yet despite this rift, they remained friends their whole lives.

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