Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The (original) castle of the stars...

A quick digression on the title of Enrique Joven's forthcoming Voynich book, "The Castle of the Stars" (originally published as El Castillo de las Estrellas): and it's all tied up with Tyco Brahe...

Once upon a time in 1572 (according to the article here), a supernova appeared in the constellation of Cassiopeia (you know, the big W-shaped one). Watching this in Denmark, Brahe realised that this was not a near-Earth object, but was in fact as far away as all the other stars, at a time when it was generally thought that this was impossible. Revolutionary stuff, and the book he wrote on the subject dramatically launched Brahe's career into orbit.

Frederick II was so desperate to make sure his brand new star astronomer did not leave Denmark that he gave Brahe the island of Hven, the huge financial backing to build Uraniborg ("the castle of Urania", named after the Greek Muse who was the patron saint of astronomy) to house his instruments, and then an observatory called Stjerneborg ("the castle of the stars")... from which (I guess) Enrique Joven took the name for his novel.

Brahe also used the grounds of Uraniborg to grow herbs for his "medicinal chemistry experiments" (according to Wikipedia): Voynichologically, this seems somehow right, doesn't it?

Incidentally, there was a short story in French by Al Nath called "Le chateau des etoiles" from Ciel in 1986: this was about Tyco Brahe.

Alternatively, there's a place in Teba in Andalucia called "El castillo de estrella" (it says here) that commemorates a battle fought in 1330, with a confused (and mythological-sounding) linked story about Robert the Bruce's heart in a silver casket being taken to the Holy Land. Errrrm... you had to be there, I guess. But I think I'll stick with the Brahe version, if that's OK with you?

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