Tychonic Model : a Geo-Heliocentric Model of the Universe

Last updated on October 10th, 2020 at 08:12 pm

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Once upon a time, a long-forgotten Danish Astronomer, and a well-known Writer Tycho Brahe established a theoretical model of the universe known to us as the Tychonic System or Tychonic Model Of The Universe.

The Tychonic model basically unified the mathematical benefits of the Copernican System or Sun-Centered Solar System with the philosophical benefits of the Aristotelian Universe or Earth-centered Universe.

 

What Is the Tychonic Model?

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17th-century demonstration of the Tychonic Universe where the sun, moon, and stars orbit around the earth. And other planets orbiting around the sun/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tychonic model is a theoretical model of the universe that hypothesizes that earth is the center of the universe. The sun, moon, and the stars revolve around the earth. And all other planets within our solar system revolve around the sun.

That’s why the Tychonic model is also referred to as the geo-heliocentric model of the universe. Simply because it inherits the combination of both.

In other words, the Tychonian model retains the ancient Aristotelian view that (stationary) earth is the center of the universe, where the sun and the moon revolve around the earth.

On the other hand, retains the modern concept of the Copernican view that all the other planets within our solar system revolve around the Sun.

This theoretical model of the universe was proposed by Danish Astronomer Tycho Brahe around the 1570s.

 

Advocates and Admirer of the Tychonic Model

Well, if I go down the history of the Astronomical Timeline, in 4th Century BC, it was a Greek Philosopher and Astronomer Heraclides Ponticus who first proposed a similar model to the Tychonic model of the universe.

He proposed that at least Mercury and Venus revolve around the Sun.

Later after Heraclides, in the 4th century AD, a roman astronomer Macrobius Theodosius also proposed a similar model to the Tychonic System.

Moreover, according to the written scriptures, the Tychonic universe was in fact inspired by the two german Astronomers – Valentin Naboth and Paul Wittich.

Capellan Geo-Helio Centric Model
Naboth’s representation of Martianus Capella’s geo-heliocentric astronomical model (1573)/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Capellan Geo-helio centric model, at least inner planets (Mercury and Venus) revolve around the Sun. On the other hand, the outer planets (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) orbits around the Earth.

Almost a century before the Tychonic model, an Indian Mathematician, and Astronomer Nilakantha Somayaji of the Kerala School Of Astronomy And Mathematics proposed the geo-heliocentric model of the solar system.

In his model of the universe, all the planets revolve around the Sun except the Earth.

 

Historical View And Development Of Tychonic Universe

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A 1524 representation of Aristotelian-Ptolemaic Geocentric universe/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Well, in some sense; Nicolaus Copernicus, Brahe, and Kepler were contemporary to each other.

Brahe was a philosophical man. That’s why he retained the philosophical view of Aristotle beliefs. Meaning earth was fixed at the center i.e Earth is immobile (motionless) and the sun and moon revolve around the earth.

On the other hand, Tycho Brahe admired the work of Nicolas Copernicus. So in order to make his system (Tychonic System) mathematically correct.

He retained the view from the Copernicus Heliocentrism that the rest of the planets revolve around the sun.

Hence, making his model (Tychonic model of the universe) a geo-heliocentric Model of the universe.

Although, he admired the work of Nicolas Copernicus. Yet he had some ideological difference regarding physics, astronomical observations of stars; as Brahe wrote,

This innovation expertly and completely circumvents all that is superfluous or discordant in the system of Ptolemy. On no point does it offend the principle of mathematics. Yet it ascribes to the Earth, that hulking, lazy body, unfit for motion. A motion as quick as that of the aethereal torches, and a triple motion at that.

Source: Owen Gingerich, The eye of heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, New York: American Institute of Physics, 1993, 181

Brahe View On Copernican Model

copernican-heliocentrism
Copernican model/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tycho was disturbed by the facts regarding the physics (physical motion) given by Nicolas Copernicus. Therefore, he held the notion that the earth is too heavy and inactive to be continuously moving.

As per the prevailing Aristolean Principle of that time; the heavens and stars were made up of Aether or in the modern-day word “Quintessence”.

Aether is a substance so light on one hand and so strong on others. Therefore, responsible for the natural circular motion of stars and heaven. A substance not found on earth making earth immobile or lazy to be moved.

Take a look at Top 6 Obsolete cosmological Theories Of The Universe

Regarding astronomical observations of stars given by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe theorized that if planet earth orbited around the sun (as in the heliocentric model).

Then there had to be an observable Stellar Parallax. Stellar parallax means the apparent shift of the position of an object, against the background of the distant object over a period of six months.

Meaning, there should be a change in the angular orientation of the star because of the motion of the earth.

Later, Johannes Kepler (his assistant) used Tycho Brahe observations and fused it with the Copernican Model. In return, derived his Kepler’s Law Of Planetary Motion.

 

Rise And Demise Of Tychonic Model

After the theoretical explanation given by the Tycho Brahe for his Tychonic system; it became the major competitor with the existing Copernican Heliocentrism.

Because the Tychonic universe unified the Aristotelian universe with Copernican heliocentrism. And with the Tychonic model, he provided a conceptual bridge between Geo-Centrism and Helio-Centrism.

In the view of Tycho Brahe; the Tychonic system neither violated the laws of physics (Mathematical View) nor the sacred scriptures (Philosophical View).

The Tychonic System was more influential than the Copernican System in the late 16th and 17th centuries. Solely due to being philosophically more intuitive than the Copernican System.

In fact, the Tychonic model remained the center of astronomy until the discovery of Stellar Parallax in 1838 by a German Astronomer and Physicist Friedrich Bessel.

The observation of stellar parallax proved the fact that the earth did revolve around the sun.

Hence, became the only reason for the downfall or demise of the Tycho Brahe’s Tychonic model of the universe from the heart of the Astronomical world.

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About Atul Sinha

I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

One Reply to “Tychonic Model : a Geo-Heliocentric Model of the Universe”

  1. You say " The Tychonic System was more influential than the Copernican System in the late 16th and 17th century due to being philosophically more intuitive than the Copernican System. Brahe's Cosmological System remained the center of the astronomy until the discovery of Stellar Parallax in 1838 by a German Astronomer and Physicist Friedrich Bessel." The second sentence implies that the Tychonic system dominated up until 1838, which is nonsense. Most of European astronomy was decidedly Copernican from 1700 onwards, and certainly just about 100% by 1775 onwards.

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