Until the 16th century most people thought the Earth was the centre of the Universe and that everything — the Moon, Sun, planets and stars — revolved around it.
Nicolaus Copernicus was the astronomer who first suggested that the Sun was the centre, and that the Earth went round the Sun. This is called the heliocentric view.
In 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a revolutionary theory — that Earth and other planets move around the Sun. Before this people had believed that the Sun and planets moved around the stationary Earth.
The Earth,’ wrote Cope nicus, ‘carrying the Moon’s path, passes in a eat orbit among the other planets in an annual re olution around the Sun.’
Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 at T. n in Poland, and died on 24 M 547. Copernicus was the nephew of a prince bishop who spent most of his life as a canon at Frauenberg Cathedral in East Prussia (now Germany).
Copernicus described his ideas in a book called De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (`On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres’).
The Roman Catholic Church banned Copernicus’s book for almost 300 years.
Copernicus’s ideas came not from looking at the night sky but from studying ancient astronomy.
Copernicus’s main clue came from the way the planets, every now and then, seem to perform a backward loop through the sky.
The first proof of Copernicus’s theory came in 1609, when Galileo saw (through a telescope) moons revolving around Jupiter.
The change in ideas that was brought about by Copernicus is known as the Copernican Revolution.