Notable Renaissance Astronomers

Between the 14th and the 17th century, the Renaissance Period influenced the world, which was responsible for a collection of notable astronomers who blossomed during this time. In this article, we will take a look at the contributions and beliefs regarding Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.


Tycho Brahe (1546 A.D.- 1601 A.D.) was brought into the world as a resident of Denmark and was best known for his belief that the advancements in astronomy depended on assessing accurate observations. Because of his teachings, an observatory was constructed close to Copenhagen, which later gained the reputation as one of the best in all of Europe.


Brahe is also known as the first astronomer to furnish corrections regarding atmospheric refraction, which pertains to the change in direction of a ray of light as it passes from space into the atmosphere. A remarkable outcome to his views including a host of orbital anomalies coming to light that never gained attention by other astronomers before. Brahe was able to bring many aspects of space to the forefront.


For his forward-thinking approach, Brahe is responsible for many contributions to astronomy, as he also planned out and built a new crop of instruments. He was also well versed in making periodic checks and administering calibrations to instruments to ensure and maintain accuracy. His views on the “art of observing” helped to shape many young astronomers with a curious flicker for the subject. He also trained many bright minds and stressed the importance of observation. In the end, Brahe left behind a legacy regarding astronomical instrumentation, as well as promoting observation as a well-oiled tool of astronomy.


Johannes Kepler (1571 A.D.- 1630 A.D.) was a German-bred astronomer, who became the first backer of Copernicus, who spread the word regarding the heliocentric theory. As a result, Kepler was able to establish what was known as the three laws of planetary motion. Kepler was such a strong supporter of Copernicus that he published “Mysterium cosmographicum,” which translates into “Cosmographic Mystery” and used it as a defense and way of adding his beliefs regarding the arrangement of the planetary system. In later years, his publication, ” Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae” (Introduction to Copernican Astronomy, 1618 – 21) would become one of the most referred to and examined treatises pertaining to the subject of astronomy throughout Europe.


After Kepler passed away, he left behind a legacy in astronomy that continues to surface even today. This is seen in the way he was able to accurately determine the majority of positions the planets would assume in later years with special focus on Mars.


Kepler is also responsible for carrying out concentrated studies regarding the true orbits of the planets. This approach was rather significant because he took a different route and actually abandoned the ancient belief that the planets must follow a path consisting of perfect circles. Kepler was also responsible for proving that the orbit of Mars was an ellipse where the sun took up one of its two foci. This would become the first law of planetary motion associated with Kepler. He would later publish a second law associated with planetary velocity and a third law published 10 years later that illustrated the relationship between the orbital periods and the space between the planets in regards to the sun.