Feb 19, 2013

Nicolaus Copernicus' 540th Birthday

Nicolaus Copernicus (German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Italian: Nicolò Copernico; Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a comprehensive heliocentric model which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe.

The publication of Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science. It began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the rise of the ensuing Scientific Revolution. Copernicus' heliocentric theory placed the Sun at the center of the solar system and described that system's mechanics in mathematical rather than Aristotelian terms.

One of the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, jurist with a doctorate in law, physician, quadrilingual polyglot, classics scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, governor, diplomat and economist.