Nicolai Copernicus

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Nicolaus Copernicus

Have you ever wondered who discovered that the sun is the center of our universe? If so, the answer is Nicolai Copernicus. This man was a well-respected as well as well educated man. He explored many different subjects including mathematics, medicine, canon law, and his favorite astronomy. The Earth-centered universe of Aristotle and Ptolemy were Western thinking for almost 2000 years until the 16th century when Copernicus proposed his theory.

Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in Thorn, Poland. He was the youngest son of four children and the son of a prosperous merchant. Following his father's death, his Uncle Lukas Watzelrode, bishop of Ermland, adopted him. Copernicus began his studies in Thorn and then at the University of Cracow where he studied mathematics and became very interested in humanistic studies.1 Copernicus left Cracow for Italy where he went to the Universities of Bologna and later Padua. He studied many different subjects including mathematics, canon law, and astronomy. Copernicus received a degree in medicine at the University of Padua, and went on to receive his doctorate from the University of Ferrara in canon law.

His Uncle Lukas became very sick and Copernicus returned to Poland to care for him. After his Uncle's death he became canonist at the cathedral of Frauenburg. Copernicus not only did his canonist duties, but also practiced medicine, wrote a treatise on monetary reform, and turned his attention to a subject in which he had long been interested - Astronomy.2

Until Copernicus, the teachings of the Greek astronomer Ptolemy were considered the indisputable truth. His idea was that the Earth was the stationary center of the universe. The sun, moon, planets, and th...

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6. See number 4

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9. Stephen P. Mizwa, A.m., LL.d., Nicholas Copernicus (New York: The Kosciuso

Foundation, 1943), p.11.


- McCarty, Rick. "Nicolaus Copernicus." The Catholic Encyclopedia, (1996). Online.

Inernet. 21 Oct. 1999.

Available http://

- Mizwa, Stephen p. Nicholas Copernicus. New York: The Kosciuso Foundation, 1943.

- "Nicholos Copernicus". Online. Inernet. 21 Oct. 1999. Available

- "The Copernican Model: ASun-Centered Solar System". Online. Internet. 21 Oct. 1999.


- Wallis, Charles Glenn. On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. New York:

Prometheus Books, 1995.

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