Early Life

Nicolaus Copernicus was a well-known astro-nomer, mathematician, translator, artist and physicist. He was the first astronomer to form a model of the universe in which the sun was the center of the solar system and the planets were situated around the sun. He came up with the theory of a heliocentric solar system. Copernicus was known as the 'Father of Modern Astronomy'. Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Poland. He had three siblings. His father was a merchant and his family was counted amongst the wealthy. Nicolaus' father died when he was young and he was brought up by his maternal uncle. For his education, he went to St John's School. After he completed his studies, he attended the University of Kra kow. He took mathematics and painting as his graduation subjects. But soon he started to take an interest in astronomy. He bought many books and got engaged in the subject. In 1497, he joined the University of Bologna to pursue law.
While there, he met the famous astronomer Domenico Maria Novara. Copernicus took lectures from a well-known Polish astronomer and soon assisted Novara in his research. In 1503, he graduated with a law degree and started to teach astronomy to others. Copernicus studied the works of astronomers like Plato and Cicero. He learned about the movement of the Earth, which later on became the basis of his research. He developed a theory that the Earth and other planets orbited the sun. Copernicus didn't share his findings with anyone for many years. 
Copernicus moved to Rome in 1500 where he delivered lectures on mathematics. He met George Rheticus, who helped Nicolaus to publish his works. He worked in the Catholic Church for a short period. In 1514, he released his first work studying the universe called Commentariolus (Little Commentary) in his circle. It was a collection of letters. He continued to do his research in isolation, without anyone's help. He made most of his astronomical observations about the sun and the planets way before the telescope was invented.

Around 1530, he came up with one of his most significant works, which is still referred to in astronomy, called De Revolutionibus. In his book, he explained that the Earth rotates on its own axis once every day and revolves around the sun once every year. And, he correctly described all the planets' positions in the solar system. He revealed why seasons occurred. He also claimed that the distance from the Earth to the sun was much lesser than the distance from the Earth to the other stars.
Copernicus' astronomical model, a heliocentric planetary system, was also created around the same time. His observations differed from the astronomers who came before him. Everyone thought that the universe was a closed space bound by a spherical envelope beyond which there was nothing. But, Copernicus changed how people viewed the universe. Copernicus' works were not limited to just astronomy. He was also a physician, scholar, economist, translator, mathematician, artist and diplomat. 
Most of Copernicus' works were released later in life. Some parts of his research were distributed amongst astronomers. One of them was a young man who discovered his works. If he hadn't found Copernicus' works, they would never have been published. It was only in 1543 that the full book of his works was released.

When his book went to Pope Paul III, the Church rejected his writings. The printer added a note in the book saying that even though the book's theory was unusual, it helped astronomers with their calculations, and that the subject could only be understood by highly educated people. The Church eventually banned the book in 1616. The Catholic Church wasn't the only one to reject Copernicus' ideas. The religious leader Martin Luther also voiced his displeasure about this solar system model. 
Due to his pledge to the Church, Copernicus never got married. He died on May 24, 1543, at the age of seventy, in Poland.

Previous Post Next Post