- Education and Science
Polish Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus Reburied as a Hero
Astronomer, Mathematician and Cleric
Nicolaus Copernicus who lived from 1473 to 1543, was a little known mathematician and astronomer working in Poland. He was a cleric in a Catholic Church in Frombork (Fraunberg), Poland but spent all of his free time developing his theory of a sun-centered universe.
Heliocentrism was actually first proposed in the 3rd century BC by Aristarchus of Samos, but it was Copernicus in the 16th century who presented the world with his model of a sun-centered universe. He based it on complex mathematical equations and his own naked-eye observations. The telescope was not yet invented. His model was expanded by Johannes Kepler with support from Galileo’s telescopic observations which greatly contributed to the acceptance of Copernicus’s theory.
Writing His Manuscript
Copernicus started writing his statement on heliocentrism in 1506. He finished it in 1530 but it was not published until 1543, just before his death. He was still in good standing with church when he died but he was buried in an unmarked grave. His work did not inspire very much debate for the next 60 years and it was only when it was beginning to be noticed that the Catholic Church labeled him a heretic. The Church believed in the geo-centric theory proposed by Ptolemy that the Earth was the center of the universe.
Reburied as a Hero
The Catholic Church has finally acknowledged Copernicus’s revolutionary theory that helped make him the father of modern science, 467 years after his death. On May 22, 2010 he was reburied in a tomb in the cathedral he once served as a cleric. A black granite tombstone identifies him as a church canon and as the founder of the heliocentric theory. The tombstone is decorated with a model of the solar system with the sun and the six planets he diagrammed in their orbits around the sun.
Better Late Than Never
Nicolaus Copernicus was a brilliant man who changed the course of science. I commend the Catholic Church for finally giving him the respect he deserves.
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