Sir Issac Newton
Nicolaus Copernicus is often called the father of modern astronomy. This is from the fact that it was Copernicus who worked out the system of astronomy that showed that the planets orbit the Sun. He was born on February 19, 1473, in the Polish town of Torun. Nicolaus's father died when he was 10 and his uncle adopted his two sisters, his bother, and him. His uncle made sure that the boys got a good education.
Nicolaus Copernicus attended that Polish University of Carcow where he studied Latin, mathematics and astronomy. Also he probably changed his name from the polish form of Niklas Koppernigk to the latin form of it- Nicolaus Copernicus at this time. The custom of changing your name to it's latin form was common among the scholars at this time since Latin was the language used at the universities.
Copernicus went to Italy in 1496 and spent the next 10 years studying at different universities. When he was at Bologna he was working with astronomy professor Domenico da Navora. Working with Da Navara was one of the most important experiences of Copernicus's early years. This is because Domenico da Navara was someone else who questioned the accepted ideas about the workings of the universe.
At this time nearly everyone believed that all things revolved around the earth which was the center of the universe. Since the Greek philosopher Aristotle had stated that the earth was the center of the universe and Ptolemy based his system of astronomy on this belief, the notion of the earth being the center of the universe was an old belief by Copernicus' time so few questioned it. Also since the church had long been the center of learning this system had been linked to religious belief. Copernicus didn't want to fight with the church. His uncle, a Catholic Bishop, arranged for him to be a canon in the church. Despite this however, Copernicus couldn't stop thinking about earth's place in the universe.
spheres revolve about the Sun as their midpoint, and therefore the
Sun is the center of the universe."
- Nicolaus Copernicus
Copernicus returned to his homeland of Poland by 1506 where he begun his career as a canon at the cathedral of Frauenburg and remained in this position until he died in 1543. While he was a canon, he carried on with his work in astronomy. Copernicus had only basic equipment and made all of his observations with the naked eye. But through the use of logic and math he was able to conclude that Ptolemy's system was incorrect. Ptolemy's system didn't account for the movement of the planets in the sky. So Copernicus created a system which accounted for them. In Copernicus's system the planets orbited the Sun.
|"As if seated
upon a royal throne the Sun rules the family of planets as they
circle round him."
- Copernicus, 1543
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.