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Profile of Nicholas Copernicus
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How is On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres considered in the history of astronomy?
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Profile of Nicholas Copernicus
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 Hi, I'm Christina Hartman, and today we're profiling the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.Copernicus Studied Mathematics, Canon Law and MedicineNicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in what is now Poland. He studied mathematics at the University of Cracow, canon law at the University of Bologna, and medicine at the University of Padua. But throughout his studies, Copernicus remained fascinated by astronomy, particularly the heliocentric ordering of the planets.Heliocentrism was the idea that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. Classic thought — and the Catholic Church — insisted that the earth was the center of the universe. In 1512, Copernicus first laid out his ideas about a sun-centered universe.Copernicus Traced and Plotted Courses of Heavenly BodiesWhile Copernicus' passion was astronomy, he spent most of his life working as a church official.  In an age before the invention of the telescope, Copernicus was still able to trace and plot the courses of heavenly bodies.Copernicus Published Greatest Work in 1543In 1543, Copernicus published his greatest work, "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres." In it, he presented in full his heliocentric theory of the solar system. It is still considered a seminal work in the history of astronomy.Copernicus was not the first person to realize that the earth was not the center of the universe.  But his theories about the ordering of the planets did set in motion a revolution in thinking about the heavens.Copernicus Never Saw His Greatest Work PublishedShortly before "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" was published, Nicolaus Copernicus died on May 24, 1543. So, he never got to see how his theories were received.
Thanks for watching our profile of mathematician and astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus. For more information, check out About.com.  
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