1473 – Copernicus – bio

Nicolaus Copernicus was born in 1473 in Poland. He is known as the first astronomer to claim that the Sun is at the center of the solar system with the Earth rotating about it, instead of the other way around. Copernicus studied at the Universities of Bologna and Padua in Italy and studied under a famous astronomer of the time called Domenico Maria Novara.

While Copernicus was not the first astronomer to suggest that the Earth was not at the center of the solar system or of the universe, it was his writings that were finally accepted as a convincing argument. Earlier scientists who suggested similar theories include Aristarchus and Aryabhata.

His book, “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death, included a list of seven key points:

  1. There is no one center of all the celestial circles or spheres.
  2. The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only of gravity and of the lunar sphere.
  3. All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.
  4. The ratio of the earth’s distance from the sun to the height of the firmament is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth’s radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.
  5. Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth’s motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.
  6. What appear to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.
  7. The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth’s. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.

PRECURSOR:
-0575 – Pythagoras
-0408 – Eudoxus
-0325 – Euclid
-0310 – Aristarchus
0085 – Ptolemy
0476 – Aryabhata
0850 – al-Battani
1401 – Nicholas of Cusa

SUBSEQUENT:
1546 – Brahe
1564 – Galileo
1571 – Kepler
1642 – Newton

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