Copernicus

The astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was instrumental in establishing the concept of a heliocentric solar system, that is, in which the sun, rather than the Earth, is the center of the solar system. We are going to learn about the interesting work of this astronomer we all know as Copernicus.

Who is Nicolaus Copernicus?

The famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, whose name in Polish is Mikolaj Kopernik, was born on February 19, 1473. Descendant of Nicolaus Copernicus Sr. and Barbara Watzenrode, he is the fourth son of a wealthy family of copper merchants in Torun, West Prussia.

With his German heritage, as Torun had been ceded to Poland when he was born, making him a citizen under the Polish crown, Copernicus had German as his first language, but also spoke some Polish.

Around 1480, his father died and he remained in the custody of his maternal uncle, the Bishop of Warmia Lucas Watzenrode. The relative assumed the paternal role and the responsibility that Nicolaus received the best training.

In 1491, he entered the University of Krakow, becoming interested in areas such as Painting and Mathematics. At the same time, he developed a growing interest in the cosmos and began collecting books on the subject.

In the middle of the decade, Copernicus received a cathedral appointment, as canon of Frombork and kept the job for the rest of his life. It was a lucky shot: the position of canon gave her the opportunity to finance the continuation of his studies for as long as he wanted.

Still, the job demanded much of his schedule, so he was only able to pursue his academic interests intermittently, during his free time, however, he made the most of it.

In 1496, Copernicus took his leave and traveled to Italy where he enrolled in a religious law program at the University of Bologna. There, he met the astronomer Domenico Maria Novar and the two began exchanging ideas and astronomical observations, eventually becoming housemates.

In 1501, Copernicus went on to study Practical Medicine at the University of Padua. However, he didn't stay long enough to get a degree, as his canon post's two-year license was about to expire.

Around 1503, he attended the University of Ferrara, where he took the necessary exams to obtain his doctorate in Canon Law. He hastened back to his home in Poland, where he resumed his post as canon and joined his uncle in an episcopal palace.

Copernicus remained in the Lidzbark-Warminski residence for a long period, dedicating himself to taking care of his uncle, who was already an old man and sick, in addition to studying and exploring in the area of ​​Astronomy. In 1510, he moved to a residence near Frombork Cathedral, where he remained as a canon for the rest of his life.

Copernican theory

During the time he remained in Lidzbark-Warminski, Copernicus did not stop studying Astronomy, consulting various books and sources, but mainly the 15th-century Epitome of the Almagest by Regiomontanus, which presented an alternative to Ptolemy's model of the universe and significantly influenced the astronomer's research.

Scholars believe that in 1508, Copernicus elaborated and developed his own celestial model, a heliocentric planetary system different from the one established by Aristotle, with which the celestial bodies moved in a circular and fixed way around the Earth.

Copernicus' heliocentric solar system had the sun as its center, instead of the Earth, with the king star being the central point of the solar system. Later, Copernicus stated that the size and speed of the orbit of each planetary body depended on its distance from the sun.

Although his theory was seen as revolutionary and faced controversy, Copernicus was not the first astronomer to propose a heliocentric system Centuries earlier, in the 3rd century BC, the ancient Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos had identified the sun as a unit center orbited by a rotating earth.

But a heliocentric theory was too innovative for the time, where the influential Roman Catholic Church strongly supported the Earth-centered solar system theory.

It is important to note that Copernicus' heliocentric system proved to be more detailed and precise than Aristarchus', and also included a more efficient formula for calculating planetary positions.

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