By: Marcos Arellano, Alberto Torres and Jesús Baos
• Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer
who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the
Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.
• Copernicus was born in a merchant rich family
on the 19 February 1473, but at the age of 10
he became an orphan and his maternal uncle
took care of him, which was a priest of
Frauenberg cathedral and then bishop of
• In 1491 Copernicus entered in the Cracovia
University, following the indications of his uncle
• In 1496 he went to Italy to complete his formation in Bologna, where he did
canon law and receive influence from the italian humanism ; which revived
the study of the classics, Greece and Rome, and which influence Copernicus
on his later astronomic works.
• However there is no proofs that show that he was interested on astronomy
• After studying medicine in Padua Copernicus doctorate on canon law by the
Ferrara University in 1503.
• That same year he returned to his country, where he had been granted a
sinacure thanks to the influence of his uncle, and he joined the episcopal
court in the Lidzbark Castle, acting as their trusted advisor.
• When this bishop died in 1512, Copernicus took up residence in Frauenburg
and devoted himself to the administration of the property of the council for
the rest of his days, always kept empleoeclesiastic canon, but without reciving
• He became interested in economic
theory, and in particular studied monetary
reform, a subject on which he published a
treatise in 1528.
• Meantime he practised medicine, and
cultivated his humanistic interests.
Copernicus´ maternal uncle,
Lucas Watzenrode the Younger
• Around 1507, Copernicus developed his
first exhibition of a heliocentric system of
astronomy in which the Earth orbited the
Sun, as opposed to the traditional
Ptolemaic system, in which the movements
of all celestial bodies had centered our
• A limited number of handwritten copies of the scheme circulated among
scholars of astronomy, and because of that Copernicus began to be
considered a notable astronomer, however, his research is mainly based
on the study of texts and data provided by their predecessors, as they
hardly exceed fifty observations on record who performed throughout his
• In 1513 Copernicus was invited to participate in the reform of the Julian
calendar in 1533 and his teachings were exposed to Pope Clement VII by
his secretary, in 1536, Cardinal Schönberg wrote to Copernicus from Rome
urging him to make public their findings.
• By then, he had completed writing his great work, On the Revolutions of
the Heavenly Spheres, an astronomical treatise that defended the
heliocentric hypothesis .
Monument in Warsaw
Monument in Krakow
Collegium Magius, Krakow
• The text was structured according to the formal model of the Almagest of
Ptolemy , which retained the traditional idea of a finite universe , spherical
, and the principle that the circular movements were the only suitable to
the nature of the heavenly bodies , but contained a series of theses that
were in contradiction with the old conception of the universe , whose
center , for Copernicus ceased to be coincident with the Earth , nor exist in
your system, a single common center of all the celestial motions .
• Finally he died on 24 May 1543.
• Claudius Ptolemy who was a Greco-Roman
mathematician, astronomer and geographer
• He was born in 90 A.D and died in 168 A.D.
• He theorized the Ptolemaic model or also
known as geocentric model.
Ptolemaic model or geocentric model
• Was a refinement of previous models
developed by Greek astronomers.
• Ptolemy´s model could so accurately explain
the motions of heavenly bodies, it became the
model for understanding the structure of the
• It is beyond the scope of this course to discuss
all the complex social and historical
implications of an Earth-centered versus a
Sun-centered model of the solar system.
Continuation (ptolemaic model)
• But nearly all the early models, including
Ptolemy’s version of the solar system,
assumed that the Earth was the center of not
only the solar system, but the entire universe.
• Ptolemaic model accounted for the apparent
motions of the planets in a very direct way, by
assuming that each planet moved on a small
sphere or circle, called an epicycle, that
moved on a larger sphere or circle, called a
• The stars, it was assumed, moved on a
celestial sphere around the outside of the
The heliocentric model is a theory
that places the Sun as the center
of the universe, and the planets
orbiting around it. The
heliocentric model replaced
geocentrism, which is the belief
that the Earth is the center of the
universe. The geocentric model
was the prevailing theory in
Ancient Greece, throughout
Europe, and other parts of the
world for centuries. It was not
until the 16th century that the
heliocentric model began to gain
popularity because technology
progressed enough to gain more
evidence in its favor. Although
heliocentrism did not gain
popularity until the 1500′s, the
idea had existed for centuries
throughout the world.
In the 16th century, the astronomer
Nicolaus Copernicus devised his version of the heliocentric
model. Like other before him, Copernicus built on Atistarchus’
work, mentioning the Greek astronomer in his notes.
Copernicus’ theory became so well known that when most
people discuss the heliocentric theory today, they are referring
to Copernicus’ model. Copernicus published his theory in his
book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies. Copernicus
placed the Earth as the third planet from the Sun, and in his
model, the Moon orbits the Earth not the Sun. Copernicus also
hypothesized that the stars do not orbit the Earth; the Earth
rotates, which makes the stars look like they have moved in the
sky. Through the use of geometry, he was able to turn the
heliocentric model from a philosophical hypothesis to a theory
that did a very good job predicting the movement of the
planets and other celestial bodies.
One problem facing the heliocentric model was that the
Roman Catholic Church, a very powerful organization in
Copernicus’ time, considered it heretical. This may have
been one of the reasons why Copernicus did not publish his
theory until he was on his deathbed. After Copernicus died,
the Roman Catholic Church worked even harder to
suppress the heliocentric view. The Church arrested Galileo
for promoting the heretical heliocentric model and kept
him in house arrest for the last eight years of his life.
Around the same time that Galileo created his telescope,
the astronomer Johannes Kepler was refining the
heliocentric model and trying to prove it with calculations.
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