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Nicolas Copernicus

1473 - 1543

Nicolas Copernic

Polish canon, professor of mathematics, doctor and astronomer. A student of the Italian astronomer, Domenico Maria Novara (Bologna 1496-1500).

Developed heliocentrism, a new theory on the movement of the planets opposing Ptolemy's geocentrism. Heliocentrism considers that the planets, including the Earth, circle the Sun whereas geocentrism made the Earth the centre of the universe around which the Sun and planets revolved.

Key dates

Around 1513

First unsigned treatise on astronomy (now known under the title “Commentaliorus”). Copernicus set out the principles of heliocentrism.

Around 1530

Completed his major work, "De revolutionibus".

1543

Publication, a little before Copernicus' death, of "De revolutionibus" by a Nuremberg printer.