Open main menu

Nicolaus Copernicus

Renaissance mathematician, Polish astronomer, physician

Nicolaus Copernicus [2] (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Polish astronomer.[3] People know Copernicus for his ideas about the sun and the earth. His main idea was that our world is heliocentric (helios = sun). His theory was that the sun is in the middle of the solar system, and the planets go around it. This was published in his book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in the year that he died.

Nicolaus Copernicus
Nikolaus Kopernikus.jpg
The "Torun portrait" (anonymous, c. 1580), kept in Toruń town hall[a]
Born19 February 1473
Died24 May 1543(1543-05-24) (aged 70)
Frombork (Frauenburg),
Prince-Bishopric of Warmia,
Royal Prussia, Kingdom of
Poland
Alma mater
Known forHeliocentrism
Quantity theory of money
Gresham–Copernicus law
Scientific career
Fields
  • Astronomy
  • Canon law
  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Politics
InfluencesAristarchus of Samos, Martianus Capella
InfluencedJohannes Kepler
Signature
Nicolaus Copernicus signature (podpis Mikołaja Kopernika).svg
Birthplace of Copernicus in Toruń (Kopernika Road #15, left). Together with the house at #17 (right), it forms the Muzeum Mikołaja Kopernika.

Copernicus was born in 1473 in the city of Thorn (Toruń), in Royal Prussia, a mainly German-speaking region that a few years earlier had become a part of the Kingdom of Poland. He was taught first in Cracow and then in Italy, where he graduated as a lawyer of the church. He also studied medicine to serve his fellow clerics. Copernicus spent most of his life working and researching in Frauenburg (Frombork), Warmia, where he died in 1543.

Copernicus was one of the great polymaths of his age. He was a priest, mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, jurist, physician, classical scholar, governor, administrator, diplomat, economist, and soldier. During all these jobs, he treated astronomy as a hobby. However, his formula of how the sun, rather than the earth, is at the center of the solar system, is still one of the most important scientific hypotheses in history. It was the beginning of modern astronomy.[3]

Other websitesEdit

Primary sources
General
About De Revolutionibus
Legacy

NotesEdit

  1. The oldest known portrait of Copernicus is that on Strasbourg astronomical clock, made by Tobias Stimmer c. 1571–74. According to the inscription next to the portrait, it was made from a self-portrait by Copernicus himself. This has led to speculation that the Torun portrait may be a copy based on the same self-portrait, but its provenance is unknown.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. André Goddu, Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition (2010), p. 436 (note 125), citing Goddu, review of: Jerzy Gassowski, Poszukiwanie grobu Mikolaja Kopernika in: Journal for the History of Astronomy 38.2 (May 2007), p. 255.
  2. Polish:  Mikołaj Kopernik ; German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Italian: Nicolò Copernico
  3. 3.0 3.1 Barbara Bieńkowska 1973. The scientific world of Copernicus: on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his birth, 1473–1973. Springer. ISBN 9027703531