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  • Spiegal Online: 'In 1576, the king of Denmark gave Tycho Brahe an island in the Öresund Strait, where Brahe built "Uraniborg" (Castle of the Heavens), complete with observatories. Massive pieces of astronomical equipment were kept in an underground station where the roof could be pulled aside with pulleys.

    'For 21 years Brahe studied the heavens from Uraniborg. It's considered the world's first large research institute. Using data Brahe gathered, Kepler was later able to formulate his "Laws of Planetary Motion."

    'But in 1596, dark clouds began to gather. Christian IV assumed the throne of Denmark and Norway... One of his first official acts was to humiliate his famous subject and to illegally deprive him of his estate... Within months the situation grew so tense that Brahe was at risk of imprisonment. He fled to Germany and took refuge with Emperor Rudolf II, an eccentric misanthrope who lived in the castle of Hradjin in Prague. Meanwhile, the young Danish king had Uraniborg torn down. Not a single stone of Brahe's observatory remains in place today.'

    January 20, 2009