Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus was born on February 19th, 1473 in Torun, Poland. He was a Polish astronomer. He not only proposed the heliocentric theory, but was the first to mathematically support it as well. His work helped develop the scientific method and start the process towards the Scientific Revolution.
Copernicus lived in Poland for the younger years of his life. His father was a copper merchant but died when Copernicus was only ten. His mother passed away as well, leaving him and his three siblings orphans. He was adopted by his uncle, who was both a prince and bishop. He was able to afford an excellent education due to his uncle's power and wealth. His education began at the University of Cracow where he studied mathematics, astrology, canon law, civil law, and medicine. After school he went back to Poland and devoted his life to the church administration, per his uncle's arrangements. However this did not keep him from investigating theories that he found suspicious during his schooling.
In 1500, he attended a conference concerning the calendar and found that the geocentric model could not be used to predict an accurate calendar. As he researched the subject more, he realized that while it was extremely complex and often inaccurate to determine the distance of the planets in relation to the Earth, it was far easier to calculate their positions with the sun placed in the center. He even suggested that the Earth was constantly spinning in order to explain the rising and setting of the Sun.
Copernicus came up with his first draft of his theory, but later on found that it went against the Catholic church's teachings. his book, called Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, was published but the church criticized his work even though Copernicus dedicated his book to Pope Paul III.
The book was eventually banned by the Church. This caused Copernicus' theories to be weakened. Not many people saw the book due to high prices and limited circulation, as the printing of books was very costly. In spite of this, a number of people who were able to read the book agreed with his theories. Until 1835, Copernicus's book was on the list of prohibited books in the Roman Catholic Church.
In Copernicus' time, people widely believed in what the Church said and took their word for fact. However, the Church drew most of their scientific knowledge from the Greek philosophers. Their teachings were dated and had little proof behind them. Copernicus challenged the knowledge of his time and inspired many other scientists that would come after him. The flaws of the Church's teachings inspired him to research the geocentric model of the solar system and ultimately develop the heliocentric model.


Copernicus. N.d. CORBIS. Khan Academy. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Huens, Jean-Leon. Nicolaus Copernicus. 1974. National Geographic. Web.

Kathedrale Siena Fassade. N.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

"Nicolaus Copernicus Begins a Revolution in Astronomy with His Heliocentric Model of the Solar System." Science and Its Times, edited by Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer, vol. 3, Gale, 2001. Biography in Context, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

"Nicolaus Copernicus." Scientists: Their Lives and Works, UXL, 2006. Biography in Context, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

"Nicolas Copernicus." World of Earth Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Gale, 2006. Biography in Context, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

On The Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres. N.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Stokes Brown, Cynthia. "Khan Academy." Khan Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.


Created with images by David Paul Ohmer - "Chicago - Adler Planetarium Nicolaus Copernicus" • kouk - "Copernicus"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.