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Nicolaus CopernicusBy: scottm989
Polish Astronomer
(1473-1543)

What is an Astronomer?: An astronomer is a person who looks at stars. When Copernicus was alive, astronomers looked at stars to develop different theories and to find new stars and planets. An astronomer uses a telescope to observe stars. A telescope is an instrument that magnifies the stars so you can see things you cannot with the naked eye. Astronomers are finding new stars and planets today as our technology advances we see farther into space with the use of advanced telescopes, including the Hubble telescope which is in outer space.

Early Life: Copernicus was born in 1473 in the small town of Torun, Poland. Torun is located on bank of the Vistula River. When Nicolaus was around ten years old, his father died and his uncle started to help the family. In 1491, Copernicus was enrolled at the University of Krakow to study law and astronomy. Before he received his doctorate at Canon Law, he studied medicine at the University of Padua in Padua Italy. He also continued his studies in Bologna, Italy, and in Rome, Italy.

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Scientific Achievements: Copernicus made astronomical observations that were contrary to theories that were based on Ptolemy’s theories that Earth was the center of the universe. Around 1514, he sent a hand-written manuscript with an amazing thesis-- that the celestial spheres (The Moon) rotate around the Earth at high speeds while the Earth is rotating the other way. No one thought it was possible because they believed that the work of Ptolemy was correct. Copernicus found that the Earth rotated around the Sun and the Moon rotated around the Earth. Before Copernicus, the Earth was thought to be the center of the universe and everything rotated around it. However, Copernicus used math to prove his theory. He also wrote a manuscript with the same thesis, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres), but he delayed publishing it. This was because the leaders of the Catholic Church did not like the theory that the Earth rotated around the Sun and was not the center of the universe.
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Later Life: Nicolaus Copernicus started receiving credit for his theory as he aged. He received most recognition for his theory about the Earth rotating around the sun after he died. His book, which was in the process of being published before his death, was not in print until after his death. People found Copernicus’ theory more probable than Ptolemy’s Theory based on Equants and Eccentrics. Copernicus died in 1543 in the town of Frauenburg, Poland.
Other famous scientists like Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton worked to prove Copernicus’ theory. He impacted Kepler the most and Kepler made some laws himself based on Copernicus’s book. After people went on to make discoveries with his book, Copernicus is now thought to be the founder of modern astronomy.


Interesting Facts:
For a long time no one knew where Copernicus was buried. His remains were found in 2005 in Frombork Cathedral.
He went to medical school at the University of Padua, but never finished.
He was also an economist who proposed a theory about money and quantity of money which economists still use today.
He spoke many languages, including Italian, Polish, Latin and Greek.









Sources:
Adler, Robert E. Science Firsts. New York: John Wiley, 2002. Print.
Gillispie, Charles Coulston, ed. Dictionary of Science Biography. Vol. 1. Danbury: Grolier, 1997. Print.
“Nicolaus Copernicus." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 6 Sep. 2013. < http://school.eb.com/levels/middle/article/273801>.
"Nicolaus Copernicus." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 6 Sep. 2013. <
http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/105759>.
Noretta Koertge Ed. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 2. London: Thompson and Gale, 2008. Print.