Biography of Nicolás Copérnico (1473-1543)

Nicolás Copérnico.

Do Prussian astronomer, born in Toru?, Prussia, Poland, February 19, 1473 and died on 24 may 1543 in Frombork, Prussia, Poland,. Real name could be Niklas Koppernigk (Prussian name) or Mikolaj Kopernik (Polish). Author who is the formulation of the heliocentric theory, according to which the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun; theory that offered an explanation of planetary movements more easily than the geometric model of Ptolemy, which placed the Earth at the Center. With this theory Nikolaus started a revolution which, at the end of two centuries, through the contribution of Galileo, Kepler and Newton, would lead to a total makeover of the foundations of astronomy.

The biography of Copernicus has many gaps and uncertainties, starting with their nationality which, according to some scholars, is German and not Polish. He/She was probably born in the free city of Thorn, then on Polish territory, and after completing studies at the University of Krakow, continued his education in Italy, where he/she stayed for eight years, between 1496 and 1503. He/She studied mathematics, jurisprudence, and medicine, being also interested in many other disciplines, such as theology, Canon law, and astronomy. In 1505 he/she returned to his homeland, where he/she held a post of Canon at the Cathedral of Frauenburg, playing mainly administrative tasks. Some years later he/she inherited the property of his uncle, Bishop, and secured a comfortable life.It was typical exponent of Renaissance culture, knew latin and Greek and studied the classics directly in the sources.

Copernicus signed his writings with the Latin name of Nicolaus Copernicus

The idea of the Sun at the center of the universe was not original of Copernicus, as it was advanced by the Greeks from the 3rd century BC ancient philosophers, Aristarchus of Samos, the most important defender of a heliocentric system of the universe in ancient times, who already then said, taking the designs of Heraclides of Pontus, than all the planets, including the EarthThey revolved around the Sun. For twenty years, from 1509-1529, he/she accumulated measures and astronomical observations to confirm his heliocentric theory. In 1514 he/she expressed in a brief manuscript his hitherto private, preliminary studies. In his time still ruled the system of Ptolemy, who refused to land any movement, both revolution and rotation around its own axis, being the Centre, around which revolved the planets and the Sun. Copernicus gave an idea of great interest for astronomy, postulating that the fixed stars were at a distance from Earth of the hitherto accepted. He/She said also that the apparent night movement of the fixed stars, as well as the daytime solar, they were due to the daily rotation of the earth around its axis. Copernicus realized that the movement of the stars was a mere appearance; in his most important work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (of the revolution of the orbs) published in the year of his death, i.e. in 1543 (although it was ready for publication from 1530), says: ".. .when one boat sails smoothly, travelers come to move, in the image of their movement, all things that are external and vice versa"they believe they are still with everything with them. Now, in relation to the movement of the Earth, completely similar way, is believed to be the entire universe that moves around it... "." His book became the starting point on which Galileo Galilei based his battle for the reform of astronomy. The thesis of Copernicus who argued the ground movement, it was not easy to accept by the astronomers of the time, and immediately provoked reactions, Brahe in particular. In 1616 the Church officially condemned his great work, which would not return to the light until 1835. Although studies of Copernicus rather approached the reality, it failed to find the reason for the apparent movement of the stars, so had to resort to epicycles. It will merit of Kepler, some years later, guess the elliptical shape of the orbits and archived forever complicated schemes epicyclic gears, moving the circular orbits of Copernicus in 1609.Otras of his works are: De revolutionibus orbium colestium; De lateribus et angulis solutione; Theophylacti scholastici Simocatho epistolo.

Commemorative stamp.