Nicolas Copernicus – famous astronomer
Nicolas Copernicus was a Polish astronomer and mathematician. He is best known for his heliocentric theory of the solar system, marked the beginning of the first scientific revolution.
Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in Torun, Poland. His father was a copper merchant. He died when Copernicus was 10 years old. The boy was taken in by an uncle who was a bishop of Ermeland.
In 1491 Copernicus entered the University of Kracow where he studied mathematics and painting.
In 1496, he went to Italy where he studied medicine and religious law at the universities of Bologna and Padua. Between 1499 and 1501 Copernicus gave a few lectures on astronomy and mathematics in Rome.
In 1503 Copernicus returned to Poland. He served his uncle as secretary and physician until the bishop died in 1512.
A lunar eclipse on November 6, 1500 influenced Copernicus.
He made the assumption that the Sun, not Earth, was the center of the solar system and that the planets, including Earth, orbited the Sun. He was not the first person to introduce such a radical concept.
The heliocentric model developed by Copernicus fit the observed data better than the ancient Greek concept. The major principles of Copernicus’s theory are that the earth revolves around the sun yearly while rotating daily on its own axis.
Copernicus understood that his ideas went against the teachings of the Church and reluctant to make them public. He circulated his own model among close friends soon after 1510 in the form of a manuscript, called Commentariolus. It attracted the interest of various astronomers.
In 1515 he was invited to take part in the Fifth Lateran Council’s commission on calendar reform. In 1517 he published his theory on monetary reform.
In 1543 Nicholas published On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium). It is often considered to be the starting point of the scientific revolution.
Copernicus died on May 24, 1543 at the age of 70.
He died before he could read the published version of his book – De revolutionibus. In 1616 the Vatican placed it on the Index of Forbidden Books. It was removed only in 1835.