Category: The Universe

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Location, Location, Location

If you want to build something that is going to last, you rarely get far by cutting corners. Even if what you want to build is a round tower. Maybe that is why King Christian IV (1577-1648) did not take any shortcuts when he built the Round Tower. The obvious choice would have been to place the university’s new observatory, which the Round Tower was to house, at a reasonable distance from the vibrant capital and the smoke “which is spouted out everywhere from the wood burning stoves”, as formulated by the astronomer Christen Sørensen Longomontanus (1562-1647). But Christian IV...

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Almanac

If one is unsure about who built the Round Tower, one can quickly find the answer by casting a glance at the crowned monogram that is part of the golden rebus on the tower’s façade. Should one not be in the immediate vicinity of the tower, one can have a look at one of the many depictions of it. Almost all of them correctly identify the monogram below the crown as belonging to King Christian IV (1577-1648). Except, that is, for the older volumes of the University of Copenhagen’s official almanac, which had the Round Tower on its front page...

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Tycho Brahe Was Not Here

In 1805, the English travel writer John Carr (1772-1832) used both flattering and less flattering words to portray Denmark and the Danes, when he wrote about the journey he had made through the country the previous year as part of a larger trip across Northern Europe. Among the things he was not too excited about, was the newly inaugurated memorial on Holmens Cemetery that commemorates the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. The memorial was, he thought, too small to serve as a national monument. He was more positive when it came to the Round Tower, an...

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The Universe in Greenlandic

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. On the other hand, one could accidently throw not just grit, but stardust and lunar rocks in the great cosmic machinery if one tries to make it comprehensible to a wider circle of people. This is roughly how one can summarize at least part of the astronomer and mathematician Georg Frederik Ursin’s (1797-1849) popular science business, which, among other things, includes popular lectures on astronomy. He began to lecture in the 1820s while he was an observer at the Round Tower and he continued to spread the knowledge of space after...

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The First Tourist

In one of his records the well-travelled doctor Holger Jacobæus (1650-1701) lists what different Danish localities are famous for. For instance, Jacobæus writes that Ringkøbing is famous for its oysters, Kerteminde for its beer and filthy women, and Herlufsholm for its drunkards and thieves as well as for its orchard. The country’s capital, on the other hand, is according to Jacobæus, besides its snuff, especially known for its edifices, namely the arsenal, the harbour and of course the city’s ”Turris Astronomica” or “astronomical tower”. In other words the Round Tower. Favoured by the King Jacobæus is not the only one...