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Nothing but the Facts About Nicolaus Copernicus

written by: Jason C. Chavis•edited by: RC Davison•updated: 12/13/2010

Nicolaus Copernicus is most famously known for postulating the theory of the heliocentric model. Living and working during the late 1400s and early 1500s, much of his hypothesis was unproven for years, however, his work became the basis of the astronomical revolution during the Renaissance.

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    Nicolaus Copernicus Biography


    Statue of Copernicus in Torun 

    Birth: February 19, 1473

    Birth Place: Torun, Royal Prussia, Poland

    Religious Standpoint: Roman Catholic

    Fields: Mathematics, astronomy, canon law, medicine

    Schooling: Krakow University, Bologna University, University of Padua, University of Ferrara

    Only Doctoral Student: Georg Joachim Rheticus (who was instrumental in Copernicus publishing De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres)

    Known for: Heliocentrism, the sun centered universe.

    Notable Honors: The image of Copernicus is embossed on a number of Polish coins and bills; a proposal to rename element 112 “Copernicium" was introduced in 2009

    Death: May 24, 1543 in Frombork, Warmia, Poland

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    Notable Achievements in the Field of Astronomy

    Statue of Copernicus in Warsaw 

    • Copernicus wrote a six-page manuscript entitle “Little Commentary" in 1514. He distributed the pamphlet to a number of friends, detailing his hypothesis on the heliocentric model of the solar system.
    • The theories of Copernicus were the subject of series of lectures by Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter in 1533. The speeches were delivered to Roman Catholic cardinals and Pope Clement VII.
    • Copernicus postulated that there was no center of the universe.
    • He stated that Earth was not the center of the universe, but the center of the gravitational pull which held the moon.
    • His research showed that the movement of the stars was not the result of the stars, but of Earth.
    • The motion of the Sun does not occur because of the Sun, but because the Earth moves.
    • Copernicus published his theories in the book “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" in 1543, the same year as his death.
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    Amazing Facts About Nicolaus Copernicus

    Copernicus Statue in Olsztyn 

    Copernicus is sometimes referred to as the father of modern astronomy because of his Heliocentric theory.

    There is much controversy over the true spelling of Copernicus's name. During the majority of his life, he spelled his last name "Coppernic."

    Nicolaus Copernicus led the Royal Polish defense forces of the cities of Olsztyn and Warmia during the Polish-Teutonic War. From 1519 to 1521, Olsztyn was besieged by Teutonic Knights. Copernicus himself participated in the peace negotiations that brought the conflict to an end.

    Copernicus was essential in bringing monetary reform to Poland and Prussia, writing a study that described “Gresham's Law" of debased coinage and helped postulate the quantity theory of money in 1526. The concept dealt with the price of goods compared to the volume of money in circulation.

    Copernicus was also trained as a medical doctor. During his later life, he treated various illnesses of dignitaries of Duke Albert of Prussia.

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    Image Sources

    Nicolaus Copernicus. (Artist Unknown; Supplied by Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain;

    Statue of Copernicus in Torun. (Supplied by Pko at Wikimedia Commons; GNU Free Documentation License;

    Statue of Copernicus in Warsaw. (Supplied by Jarekt at Wikimedia Commons; GNU Free Documentation License;

    Copernicus Statue in Olsztyn. (Supplied by Nol Anders at Wikimedia Commons; GNU Free Documentation License;

The Cosmology of Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus created the modern concept of the solar system and changed cosmology forever. With his theory of a heliocentric model of the Sun and planets, the Copernican Revolution gave way to modern astronomy.
  1. The Copernican Revolution
  2. Nothing but the Facts About Nicolaus Copernicus
  3. What is Cosmology?