Copernicus, Nicholas(kōpûr`nĭkəs), Pol. Mikotaj Kopérnik, 1473–1543, Polish astronomer. After studying astronomy at the Univ. of Kraków, he spent a number of years in Italy studying various subjects, including medicine and canon law. He lectured c.1500 in Rome on mathematics and astronomy; in 1512 he settled in Frauenburg, East Prussia, where he had been nominated canon of the cathedral. There he performed his canonical duties, practiced medicine, was a legal officer, and wrote a pioneering treatise on currency reform. But the work that immortalized him is De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, in which he set forth his beliefs concerning the universe, known as the Copernican systemCopernican system,
first modern European theory of planetary motion that was heliocentric, i.e., that placed the sun motionless at the center of the solar system with all the planets, including the earth, revolving around it.
..... Click the link for more information. . That treatise, which was dedicated to Pope Paul III, was probably completed by 1530 but was not published until 1543, when Copernicus was on his deathbed. Modern astronomy was built upon the foundation of the Copernican system.
See his complete works (3 vol., 1973–85, ed. and tr. by E. Rosen); biography by J. Repcheck (2007); studies by E. Rosen (1984, 1995), O. Gingerich (2004), and D. Sobel (2011).
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(1453–1543) Polish astronomer; author of the Copernican theory that planets orbit the sun. [Polish Hist.: NCE, 652]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.