Nicolaus Copernicus: Biography
Nicolaus is a renowned scholar who changes the perspective of how we considered the solar system and has been referred as the father of Astronomy. He was born in February 19, 1473 in Torun, Poland. He is credited by his development of heliocentric planetary system as a celestial model of his own. His parents Nicolaus Copernicus Sr and his mother Barbara Watzenrode were renowned affluent copper merchants where Nicolaus was the fourth and the youngest son. Nicolaus’s first language was German but was also believed to speak some Polish as well. At his university years in 1491 at the University of Cracow, Nicolaus studied mathematics and painting. His early interest in cosmos developed at early stages when he started collecting books on the topic though never studied it in early years at the university (Biography.com Editors 1).
In 1494 upon graduation, Nicolaus returned to Torun where he worked as canon at Frombork’s cathedral until his death although the position was a reserve of the priests (his Uncle organized the position for him). This position offered Nicolaus an opportunity to fund his further studies as long as he liked and in a field of his interest. In 1496, Nicolaus travelled in Italy where he enrolled at the University of Bologna to study religious law program. It is at the university where he met an astronomer Domenico Maria Novara and they began exchanging ideas concerning the topic (Wolf 18). Their relationship was described by a historian Edward Rosen as, “In establishing close contact with Novara, Copernicus met, perhaps for the first time in his life, a mind that dared to challenge the authority of [astrologist Claudius Ptolemy] the most eminent ancient writer in his chosen fields of study (Biography.com Editors 1).”
Nicolaus interest in astronomer had developed so much that he read various books and works on the topic. It was not until 1508 that Nicolaus developed his own celestial model (a heliocentric planetary system). He identified various inconsistencies, which were developed by earlier works. In his model, he replaced the earth with the sun as the center of the planetary system in his heliocentric solar system (Sarton 12). Consequently, from his description, Nicolaus postulated that the size of each planets orbit was dependent on its distance from the sun. His theory further strengthened the works of Aristarchus of Samos who in 270 B.C had identified the sun as the center of the planetary system. His theory however was heavily criticized especially due to the immense support and inclination of the Roman Catholic church believe in the earth-based solar system theory compared to Nicolaus’ sun-based one (Samir 43).
During his lifetime, Nicolaus raised various controversies in the field of astronomer and his written works, Commentariolus and De revolutionibus orbium coelestium were the center of these controversies. Many who criticized his work believed it lacked enough explanation of why the earth orbits the sun. Though Copernicus was not in good health to defend his work especially when De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published, his works in astronomer were far more reaching with scholars and world leaders engaged in the debate of his work and some went as far as naming his work as a theory as opposed to facts. Copernicus died on May 24, 1543 in Frauenburg, Poland. The works of Copernicus can only be described as symbol of brave actions of a scientist who lonely defended his works and theories against a wave of common beliefs during his time (Leonard 18).
Biography.com Editors. Nicolaus Copernicus Biography, A&E Television Networks, Retrieved from: http://www.biography.com/people/nicolaus-copernicus-9256984
Leonard, Peter. Great Men of Science, Bell and Sons Publishers, London, 1964. Print.
Samir, Kumar. Nicolaus Copernicus and his Heliocentric Theory, Visva Bharati University Press, 2001. Print.
Sarton, George. Six Wings – Men of Science, Bodley Head, London. 1957. Print.
Wolf, George. History of Science and Technology, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London, 1962. Print.