Nicolaus Copernicus is one of the most well-known astronomers and scientists of all time. His contributions to theories about the earth’s relation to the sun help us understand our place in the universe.
Copernicus is best known for his theories about heliocentrism. The theory postulated that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the solar system and that the earth revolved around the sun. Not only was this idea completely radical for his time but he was viewed as a heretic for it because the theory was based on science, not on the religious precepts of the time. The idea that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe was completely contrary to everything people had been learning for a long time.
2. De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
Copernicus published a book about his theory was entitled De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). This book is frequently regarded as the most important work in astronomy and has been translated into many different languages.
Copernicus is known as the father of modern astronomy. Unlike so many astrologers of his time, who base their theories on religious beliefs, Christian and otherwise, Copernicus based his theories on science and the things that were actually going on around him. Copernicus is sometimes credited with beginning the Scientific Revolution.
4. Center Of The Universe
Many people believe that Copernicus was the very first person to postulate the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe, though this is not the case. While there were wise Greek, Muslim and Indian men who had also published ideas about the sun being the center of the universe hundreds of years before Copernicus, he still remains the one who did the most in depth research and founded the Copernican Revolution.
5. Translator, Diplomat, Artist, Etc.
Although Copernicus was most famous for his achievements as an astronomer, his accomplishments were many. He was also a mathematician, a translator, a physician, a classical scholar, a Catholic cleric, a governor, a military leader, a diplomat, an economist and even an artist.
6. Family Name
Copernicus was named after his father, who was also named Nicloaus. His mother was born into a wealthy merchant family that was very influential in the town of Torum, where Copernicus was from. Copernicus was the youngest of four children.
7. One Man, Many Names
Copernicus, which means ’one who works with copper’, went by many different names in his life, Nicolai Copernici Torinensis and Nikolaus Kopernikus among them and, depending on the source, there are even more variations on his name. The name that he signed on his works the most often was Coppernic.
8. Good Student
Copernicus was a good student and studied at the Krakow Academy, where it is believed he would have first studied astronomy with Albert Brudzewski. He later went to study law and medicine in Bologna and Padua.
9. Great Jubilee of 1500
Copernicus also spent some time in Italy and attended the great Jubilee of 1500. While in Italy he visited Rome where he observed a lunar eclipse. This would have been particularly fascinating to him and provided him further insights into the ideas that had formed his heliocentric theories.
10. Political Endeavors
Nicolaus Copernicus worked for many years for the Royal Prussian diet and also with Duke Albert of Prussia. He advised King Sigismund I the Old and helped with many different political ventures including reformation of the currency.