Astronomer. Considered "The Father of Modern Astronomy", he was the first to postulate that the earth revolved around the sun, and that the Earth was a moving planet. Born in Thorn (now Torun, Poland), Copernicus was educated at the University of Krakow. From the influence of his uncle, a catholic bishop, he was appointed a canon of the cathedral of Frauenberg (now Frombork, Poland), providing him with income for the rest of his life. His church gave him permission to study in Italy, where he received a doctorate in law from the University of Ferrara, and studied medicine at the University of Padua. Returning to Poland, he became a medical advisor to his uncle, the bishop, who gave him great latitude in continuing his studies. Copernicus took interest in the relationship of motion among the heavenly bodies, and began to study them in earnest. For nearly 1,400 years, astronomers believed in a theory originally put forth by Ptolemy (100-165 A.D.), an early Greek scientist working in Alexandria, Egypt, that the earth was stationary, having no motion, and in the center of the universe; that all other heavenly bodies revolved around the earth. Ptolemy's theory, expressed in his 13-part book, "Mathematical Composition" was widely read throughout the world, and generally accepted by most people. Copernicus was the first scientist to seriously challenge Ptolemy's theories, and to explain convincingly why he believed the theory was wrong. In his book, "Concerning the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" (1543), Copernicus demonstrated that earth moves through the heavens, and that people have no sense of motion because they are moving along with the earth. He also demonstrated how the earth's motion could explain previously unexplainable movements of other planets. Copernicus's theory laid the foundations for later scientists, such as Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Sir Isaac Newton, and is accepted by modern astronomers as the system by which our solar system and the universe work. In 2008, scientists announced the discovery of Copernicus's remains in an unmarked grave at St. John's Cathedral in Frombork. The astronomer was reinterred there with religious ceremony on May 22, 2010, and a black granite marker was placed at the site.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson