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The youngest of four children, Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Torun, Poland. His father was a banker and merchant.
When Copernicus is ten, his father dies. Not long after, his mother dies. Copernicus is adopted by his Uncle Lucas Watzenrode, a clergyman.Copernicus' uncle sends him to the Cathedral School in Wloclawek to study to be a clergyman. At age 18 he goes to the University of Cracow, where he becomes interested in astronomy. (1483)
With his knowledge of Greek, Copernicus can read the original writings of some scientists who have not had their work translated into Latin. One scientist that he reads is Aristarchus, an ancient Greek astronomer who wrote that the earth spins, making it look like planets are revolving around the earth. (Around 1498 - 1500)
Copernicus' uncle, now Bishop Watzenrode, has him help with administrative work at his palace. With his medical knowledge, Copernicus cares for his uncle and the other canons when they are ill. He also translates a historical piece from Latin to Greek that is published in 1509.
Copernicus spends the next 30 or so years working on De revolutionibus or On the Revolutions, his major work. He is hesitant to publish it because of the Catholic Church's view of the earth as the center of the universe. 1510
Copernicus' health gets worse. He is dying. On May 24, 1543, he receives the first printed copy of De revolutionibus. Within hours he dies. He is 70-years-oldMany scientists start reading Copernicus' work, which was published in six volumes. His theories influence Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and many others. Copernicus will be remembered as the first astronomer to use mathematics and physics to prove that the earth was not the center of the universe, but a planet that joined with others to orbit around the sun.
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