Nicholas Copernicus Biography
Nicholas Copernicus biography, dates: born Torun, Poland 19 February 1473; died Frauenburg, East Prussia 24 May 1543.
Nicholas Copernicus biography, details: Nicholas Copernicus was the youngest of four sons. Nicholas' father, also called Nicholas Copernicus, was a rich merchant who died when Nicholas was young. Nicholas Copernicus' mother's brother, Bishop Lucas Watzenrode, ensured that Nicholas had a good education.
Between 1491 and 1500 Nicholas Copernicus studied liberal sciences—including astronomy —at the Universities of Cracow and Bologna. He read several books on Ptolemy's astronomy, which may have suggested the heliocentric hypothesis to him.
The greatest of Nicholas Copernicus' achievements was proposing that the earth and planets moved in circular orbits around the Sun. It is not certain what finally motivated him to adopt this heliocentric view, but he was known to have continued his studies of the Greeks, including the Pythagorean tradition (which had generated the heliocentric viewpoint of Aristarchus).
Copernicus went beyond Aristarchus in at least one respect: he did not believe the Sun, or any other heavenly body, was the centre of the universe.
This short Nicholas Copernicus biography might have been even shorter if Copernicus had not remained silent about his views until he was on his death bed. The Church burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for holding similar views. Copernicus' main work De revolutionibus orbium celestium ('On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres') had little impact for several decades after his death. Like Aristarchus' original, the Copernican system was less accurate than Ptolemy's geocentric system because it employed a simple circular orbit for each planet.
Another of Nicholas Copernicus' accomplishments was explaining the precession of the equinoxes from observations of long term changes in the direction of the axis.
Copernicus died from a stroke, but he managed to hold a copy of the newly
published De revolutionibus in his hands before he perished.