Who was Copernicus?

Sometimes a man comes a long who changes our whole way of looking at life and the universe around as. Such a man was  Nicolaus Copernicus, a polish astronomer who lived from 1473 to 1543.

Astronomers used to believe that the earth was the center of the universe. Among these astronomers was Ptolemy, an Egyptian who lived in the second century and the who wrote a book that was accepted as true for hundreds of years.

Ptolemy said that the earth stayed fixed in a permanent place, while the great hollow spheres called the heavens revolved around it. But Copernicus realized a new truth in the science of the heavens.

He decided that Ptolemy had believed the earth was fixed and the sun moved around it for one chief  reason Ptolemy had observed Great Dipper moving slowly, night after night, around the North Star.

Copernicus understood that it was the earth’s turning on its own axis that gave this effect of movement to the sun. Copernicus concluded that the earth, it self a tiny part of the whole universe, not only rotated on its axis, but also revolved around the sun in the company of other planets.

Copernicus’ theory was startling in the sixteenth century. He knew he would face opposition from the scientists and churchmen who taught that the earth was the center of the universe.

His writings were finally published near the end of his life, with a statement that it did not claim to be true fact but was only one man’s idea. Today that theory is the foundation of the whole science of astronomy.

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