Lesser Known Facts About the Father of Modern Astronomy


Renowned Polish astronomer and mathematician, Nicolas Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in Prussia, Poland. He was the first astronomer to popularize the heliocentric theory that all planets revolve around the Sun. This theory later became known as the Copernican Revolution.

Known as the father of modern astronomy, Copernicus died on May 24, 1543 in Prussia. On the anniversary of the incredible astronomer’s death, here are some lesser-known facts about him.

1. Copernicus’ father, also named Nicholas Copernicus, was a successful copper merchant, while his mother Barbara Watzenrode was from an influential merchant family.

2. His uncle Lucas Watzenrode funded his studies after his father died when he was about 10 or 11 years old.

3. In 1491, Copernicus began studying the liberal arts, including astronomy and astrology at the University of Krakow, then went to Italy to learn medicine and law at the University of Bologna.

4. He helped his astronomy professor Domenico Maria de Novara in his research and celestial observations while studying at the University of Bologna.

5. After studying law, he went to the University of Padua to become a medical adviser to his ailing uncle, Monsignor Watzenrode. But came back without a doctorate.

6. As an official of the Catholic Church, he took a vow of celibacy and never married in his life.

7. At the time, everyone believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe and that the sun, planets and other stars revolved around it. In 1514, Copernicus proposed that the sun be the center of the universe and that the earth be nearby. He even took into account the Earth’s rotation for the rising and setting of the sun, the movement of the stars, and the change of seasons.

8. In 1532, Copernicus presented his model of the solar system and the path of the planets in his book “On the revolutions of the celestial spheres” which he published two months before his death in 1543. The Church finally banned the book in 1616.

9. Copernicus died of a stroke at the age of 70. He was buried in Frombork Cathedral in Poland, but in an anonymous grave.

10. Her remains were discovered in 2005, while in 2008 researchers confirmed her identity by matching the skull to DNA in her hair.

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