Danish astronomy progenitor Tycho Brahe was not your typical scientist. Born at Knutstorp Castle, his noble family’s ancestral seat, Brahe was kidnapped by his uncle, Jørgen Thygesen Brahe (his parents had promised him to the childless Jørgen) at the age of two. During an education at various institutions across northern Europe, Tycho became fascinated by astronomy. It was his commitment to rigorously studying the patterns of stars that lay the groundwork for later astronomers, an especially remarkable feat considering his work was conducted just before the invention of the telescope. The celestial data he voraciously compiled would be used by his assistant and intellectual successor, Johannes Kepler, as the basis for his laws of planetary motion.

But Brahe was also a bit of an odd duck. His first published work was an ode to a twin who died in infancy. He lost the bridge of his nose in a sword duel with a third cousin (they didn’t have the resources to settle a dispute over a mathematical formula). For the rest of his life he wore a prosthesis reportedly made of silver, though posthumously revealed to be more likely zinc and copper due to a green discoloration on his skull.

Tycho Brahe's Uraniborg Credit: Joan Blaeu

In an attempt to keep the famed astronomer from moving his work to Switzerland, the king of Denmark, Frederick II, offered him his own island, on which he built his castle of the stars, “Uraniborg.” Here he continued his celestial observations in his custom-built astronomic pleasure dome, living in opulence and hosting wild parties.

But perhaps the funniest part of the Tycho Brahe mythos was his pet moose. The animal lived in the castle with Brahe and would trot alongside his carriage like a well-trained dog. He was a frequent spectacle at Uraniborg feasts, and as a result, developed a strong taste for beer. Brahe loved showing off his drunken moose, and unfortunately this led to the demise of the animal. After being sent to a noble in nearby Landskrona for a party, the moose climbed a set of stairs and drank so much beer that it later fell down those same stairs, dying of injuries from the fall. Brahe himself died ten years later, due to similarly bizarre party shenanigans. To avoid committing a social faux-pas, he avoided going to the bathroom during a banquet, which caused his bladder to rupture leading to his death, though some unfounded conspiracy theories claim he was poisoned by his protege Kepler.