Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in Torun, Poland. Circa 1508, Copernicus developed his own celestial model of a heliocentric planetary system. Around 1514, he shared his findings in the Commentariolus. His second book on the topic, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, was banned by the Roman Catholic Church not long after his May 24, 1543 death in Frauenburg, Poland.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473- 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe. He speaks highly of Ptolemy, "who stands far in front of all the others no account of his wonderful care and industry, with the help of more than forty years of observations brought this art to such a high point that there seemed to be nothing left which he had not touched on." (I, preface)
He begins by arguing for the sphericity of the earth: "the world is globe-shaped... this form belongs to the heavenly bodies... But it is not perceived straightway to be a perfect sphere, on account of the great height of its mountains and the lowness of its valleys, though they modify its universal roundness to only a very small extent. That is made clear in this way. For when people journey northward from anywhere, the northern vertex of the axis of daily revolution gradually moves overhead, and the other moves downward to the same extent; and many starts situated to the north are not to set, and many to the south are seen not to rise any more. So Italy does not see Canopus, which is visible to Egypt. And Italy sees the last star of Fluvius, which is not visible to this region situated in a more frigid zone... Moreover, the inclinations of the poles have everywhere the same ration with places at equal distances from the poles of the Earth and that happens in no other figure except the spherical. Whence it is manifest that the earth itself is contained between the vertices and is therefore a globe. Add to this the fact that the inhabitants of the east do not perceive the evening eclipses of the sun and moon; nor the inhabitants of the West, the morning eclipses... Furthermore, voyagers perceive ... when land is not visible from the deck of a ship, it may be seen from the top of the mast..."
He argues, "I think we must see whether or not a movement follows upon its form and what the place of the Earth is in the universe. For without doing that it will not be possible to find a sure reason for the movements appearing in the heavens...Now it is from the Earth that the celestial circuit is beheld and presented to our sight. Therefore, if some movement should belong to the earth, it will appear, in the parts of the universe which are outside, as the same movement but in the opposite direction... And thedaily revolution is especial in such a movement. For the daily revolution appears to carry the whole universe along, with the exception of the Earth and the things around it. And if you admit that the heavens possess none of this movement but that the Earth turns from west to east, you will find... that as regards the apparent rising and setting of the sun, moon, and stars the case is so. And since it is the heavens which contain and embrace all things as the place common to the universe, it will not be clear at once why movement should not be assigned to the contained rather to the container... For the fact that the wandering stars are seen to be sometimes nearer the Earth and at other times farther away necessarily argues that the centre of the Earth is not the centre of their circles.
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- Easton Press (1993)
- Limited Edition
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