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NICHOLAS COPERNICUS

Nicholas Copernicus

©James Bennett Dream by SV Bosak

1473-1543
Polish scientist, member of the Club of Dreamers (Dream by Susan V. Bosak).

The founder of modern astronomy, and the first to explain that the Earth went around the sun, rather than the other way around.

As a student, he studied canon law, mathematics, and medicine. For relaxation, he painted and translated Greek poetry into Latin. His interest in astronomy gradually grew to be one in which he had a primary interest.

His investigations were carried out quietly and alone, without help or consultation. He made his celestial observations from a turret situated on the protective wall around the cathedral at which he studied. His observations were made "bare eyeball," since the telescope wouldn't be invented for another hundred years.

His 400-page treatise, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, was completed in 1530 and published in 1543.

Said Nicholas Copernicus:

"Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the center of the Universe. All this is suggested by the systematic procession of events and the harmony of the whole Universe, if only we face the facts, as they say, 'with both eyes open.'"

"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge."


Recommended Reading:

Copernicus: Founder of Modern Astronomy by Catherine M. Andronik. Enslow Publishers, 2002. A good balance between the biographical information needed to understand Copernicus as a man and the scientific explanations necessary to understand his work. Includes black-and-white reproductions, illustrations, and photographs, along with four simple activities (retrograde motion, the solar system, parallax, and an astrolabe).

Nicholas Copernicus and the Founding of Modern Astronomy by Todd Goble. Morgan Reynolds Publishing, 2003. A methodical biography that places the astronomer within the turbulent political and religious events of his time and the shift from medieval to modern science.

Nicolaus Copernicus: Father of Modern Astronomy by Barbara A. Somervill. Compass Point Books, 2005. Part of the Signature Lives series, this is an engaging portrait with extensive back matter.

Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth is a Planet by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Cynthia von Buhler (illus). Mondo Publishing, 2004. A look at Copernicus' childhood, his education in Poland, his work as a clergyman and physician, and his passion for astronomy.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

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