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Nicholaus Copernicus ( 1473 - 1543 )  Category ( Scientists ) [suggest a correction]

Nicolaus Copernicus was a prominent astronomer, most famous for publishing a work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which contradicted current thought on the movement of planets. He described a heliocentric version of the universe, with the earth moving around the sun.

Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in Torun. Torun was in the Royal Prussia, which was a region of the Kingdom of Poland. He was born to his father of the same name, a wealthy trader of copper, and Barbara Watzenrode, a member of a rich merchant family. After his father's death, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, his maternal uncle took control of Copernicus' education and upbringing. His education began at the Krakow Academy in 1491. After four years, he went to Italy to study medicine and law at the universities in Padua and Bologna. Here, he met Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara, a famous astronomer and became his assistant. With Novara, Copernicus developed his primary interest, astronomy, which he first encountered at the Krakow Academy.

In 1497, Copernicus was made a canon at Frombork Cathedral after his uncle became the Bishop of Warmia. Over the next few years, he continued his studies in Padua where he encountered the writings of Ciciero and Plato, and began forming his theories on the movement of planets.

Copernicus moved to the Prince-Bishopric of Warmia in 1503 and remained there for the remainder of his life. He worked for several years as secretary to his uncle, the Bishop of Warmia. During this period, while living at the Bishop's castle at Lidzbark, Copernicus developed his heliocentric theory.

Copernicus held several positions in the later period of his life. This included a position at the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross in Wroclaw, the economic administrator of Warmia, and oversight of defense of Olsztyn during the Polish-Teutonic War. He also assisted with peace negotiations at the end of the war.

Although astronomy was his main interest, Copernicus wrote on many topics. He wrote the Locations of Deserted Fiefs as the economic administrator of Warmia. He also wrote Monetae cudendae ratio, a study on the debasement of money.

Copernicus first published his heliocentric theory in the form of a six-page text distributed to his friends only in 1514. He delayed publishing on a larger scale, probably due to fear of criticism or reaction from the Catholic Church. Copernicus remained, throughout his life, loyal to the church. He finally published De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543, just before his death.

The book, outlining Copernicus' ideas that the sun is the center of the universe and the planets move around it, created minimal controversy at the time of its publication. It was denounced three years later by a Dominican for contradicting the truth of Scripture. Sixty years after its publication, the Catholic Church officially suspended Copernicus' book until they could make corrections to it.

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Title :Copernicus, Nicholaus (1473-1543) -- from Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography
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