Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance era mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe, likely independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model about 18 centuries earlier. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and awesome facts about Nicolaus Copernicus.
1. The publication of Copernicus’ model in his book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelsetium, meaning On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, just before his death in 1543, was a major event in the history of science.
2. His new model triggered the Copernican Revolution and made an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.
3. Copernicus was born and died in Royal Prussia, a region that had been part of the Kingdom of Poland since 1466.
4. A polyglot and polymath, he obtained a doctorate in canon law and was also a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat and economist.
5. In 1517, he derived a quantity theory of money, a key concept in economics, and in 1519, he formulated an economic principle that later came to be called Gresham’s law.
6. His mother was Barbara Watzenrode. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant.
7. His father was Nicolaus Copernicus Sr. He was a copper merchant.
8. Copernicus had three older siblings. His older brother was Andreas Copernicus, a canon. His sister Barbara was a Benedictine nun and a convent prioress before she died. His other sister Katharina married a Torun city councilor and have five children.
9. He attended four universities including the University of Krackow, the University of Bologna, the University of Padua, and the University of Ferrara.
10. Copernicus studied mathematics, painting, astronomy, canon law and medicine.
11. Copernicus passed the canon law exam on his first try.
12. It’s believed that Copernicus could speak Latin, German, Polish, Greek and Italian.
13. His research into the universe led him to read Regiomontus’ Epitome of the Almagest. This book gave an alternative to Claudius Ptolemy’s model of the universe, which was generally accepted as true at the time.
14. By 1508, Copernicus had begun to create his model of the planetary system, suggesting that the Sun instead of our Earth was the center of the universe.
15. Copernicus wasn’t the first astronomer to suggest that the Sun was the center of the solar system. Earlier astronomer’s ideas were not accepted because the Roman Catholic Church didn’t accept them.
16. Copernicus’ model of the universe was accepted whereas earlier models hadn’t been because his was more detailed and accurate. He also had a better formula for the calculation of the planet’s positions at different times of the year.
17. He wrote a 40 page book in 1514 called the Sketch of Hypothesis Made by Nicolaus Copernicus on the Heavenly Motions. It summarized his model of the universe.
18. Copernicus suggested that planets don’t revolve around a fixed point, the Earth is the center of the orbit of the Moon, the Sun is the universe’s center and everything rotates around the Sun, stars don’t move, and that the Earth rotates around the Sun which causes its movement throughout the year.
19. He showed that only 34 circles were necessary to illustrate the motion of planets.
20. The Roman Catholic Church criticized his theories. It went so far as to ban his book after he died. It remained a forbidden book for almost 300 years.
21. Copernicus never got married and never had any children of his own.
22. It’s believed that his family origins lay in the village of Koperniki in Silesia and that his family name was inspired by the name of this village.
23. There has always been a debate about the way Copernicus spelled his last name. He changed his last name to Coppernic while he was in college and that was how he spelled it for the majority of his life.
24. He’s sometimes referred to as the father of modern astronomy. This was attributed to the fact that he invented the heliocentric theory.
25. In the Polish-Teutonic war that was fought from 1519 to 1521, Copernicus led the Royal Polish defense forces of Warmid and Olsztyn.
26. Later on in his life, Copernicus treated people with various diseases after training to be a physician at the University of Padua.
28. Copernicus is honored, together with Johannes Kepler, in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church, with a feast day on May 23.
29. In July 2014, the International Astronomical Union launched a process for giving proper names to certain exoplanets and their host stars. The process involved public nomination and voting for the new names. In December 2015, the IAU announced the winning name for 55 Cancri A was Copernicus.
30. The Wroclaw-Strachowice International Airport is named after Nicolaus Copernicus; Copernicus Airport Wroclaw.