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Nicolaus Copernicus Death Anniversary: Lesser-Known Facts About the Father of Modern Astronomy

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Last Updated: May 24, 2022, 09:20 IST

Nicolaus Copernicus (Image: Shutterstock)

Nicolaus Copernicus (Image: Shutterstock)

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first astronomer who popularised the heliocentric theory that entails that all planets revolve around the Sun

Renowned astronomer and mathematician from Poland, Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Prussia, Poland. He was the first astronomer who popularised the heliocentric theory that entails that all planets revolve around the Sun. This theory later came to known as the Copernican Revolution.

Known as the father of modern astronomy, Copernicus died on May 24, 1543, in Prussia. On the death anniversary of the incredible astronomer, here are some lesser-known facts about him.

  1. Copernicus’s father who was also named Nicolaus Copernicus was a successful copper merchant, while his mother Barbara Watzenrode belonged to an influential merchant family.
  2. His uncle Lucas Watzenrode funded his education after his father’s death when he was around 10 or 11 years of age.
  3. In 1491, Copernicus began studying liberal arts, including astronomy and astrology at the University of Krakow and then went to Italy to learn medicine and law at the University of Bologna.
  4. He assisted his astronomy professor Domenico Maria de Novara with research and in making celestial observations while studying at the University of Bologna.
  5. After studying law, he went to the University of Padua to become a medical advisor to his sick uncle, Bishop Watzenrode. But returned without a doctoral degree.
  6. As an official in the Catholic Church, he took a vow of celibacy and never married in his life.
  7. Back then, everyone believed Earth as the centre of the Universe and the sun, the planets and other stars revolved around it. In 1514, Copernicus proposed that the sun is the center of the universe and earth lay close to it. He even accounted Earth’s rotation for the rise and setting of the sun, the movement of the stars, and the change of seasons.
  8. In 1532, Copernicus laid out his model of the solar system and the path of the planets in his book ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’ which he published two months before he died in the year 1543. The Church eventually banned the book in 1616.
  9. Copernicus died of a stroke at the age of 70. He was buried in Frombork Cathedral in Poland but in an unmarked grave.
  10. His remains were discovered in 2005, while in 2008, researchers confirmed his identity by matching the skull to the DNA of his hair.

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first published:May 24, 2022, 09:20 IST
last updated:May 24, 2022, 09:20 IST