Birth Nicolaus was born on February 9, 1473. He was born in Torun, a city in Poland.
Family His father’s name was Nicolaus and he worked as a merchant and baker. His mother’s name was Barbara Watzenrode. She was the daughter of a wealthy Torun merchant. He had two sisters and one brother. His brother was named Andreas and became an Augustinian canon at Frombork. One of his sisters was named Katharina and married Barthel Gertner, leaving five children for Nicolaus to look after. His other sister was Barbara and she became a Benedictine nun.
Childhood Nicolaus’s mother died when Nicolaus was very young. His father died when he was 10, and Nicolaus was sent to live with his uncle, Lucas Watzenrode.
College He went to the University of Cracow from 1491-1494. He studied liberal arts (astronomy and astrology) there. He didn’t finish his degree and left to go the University of Bologna. He went there in 1496 to study church law Then he went to Italy to continue his studies at the University of Padua. He went to Italy for medical studies in 1501-1503.
Teachers He lived with a with the principal astronomer of the University of Bologna. His name was Domencio Maria de Novara. Nicolaus was an “assistant and witness” for some of Novara’s observations. He helped another teacher build a sundial while in Italy. The teachers name was Abstemius.
Learning He read that a man, Aristarchus, said the Earth travels around the Sun and the Earth does spin. His teachers told him that the world couldn’t move and that Earth was the center of the universe. He finished college in 1506.
His work Astronomical work took place in his spare time. He worked at the Church as a canon, collecting rents, securing military defenses, and managing bakeries, mills, and breweries.
Observations One of his observations was dated June 5, 1512. That night he observed Mars, which was in the midst of one of its backward loops. As usual he wondered: Why does the red planet do that? He discovered that Earth must not be standing still. The planets, including Earth, must orbit the Sun. Mars moves slower than earth because Earth is closer to the Sun.
Accomplishments He received a doctorate in May 1503 at the University of Ferrara. In 1514, he was invited to offer his opinion on the critical problem of the reform of the calendar at the church's Fifth Laternal Council. He wrote a booklet about his theory called Little Commentary. The Church still believed the Earth was the center of the universe, so he had to make small copies for close friends. For 30 years, he wrote and rewrote his great work. He wanted to publish it, but kept delaying for fear of punishment by the Church. Copernicus had a serious heart condition and decided to publish his book before he died. He died a few hours after he was handed the first copy.
Death Nicolaus Died on May 24, 1543 at the age of 70.
“I felt bad for Copernicus because although the Church believed otherwise, his theory turned out to be right. I know that Galileo proved Copernicus's theory, but Copernicus didn't really get as much credit. He didn't even have any family left, so even if he had gotten money from his book, no one was there to take it.”