17th March – Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

Nicolaus Copernicus lived from 1473 until 1543.

He was born in Torun now located in Poland and died in Frombork, also in modern day Poland.

Copernicus proposed the following:

1) The planets in our solar system (only Mercury to Saturn had been discovered in Copernicus’s life time) have the Sun as the fixed point to which their motions are referred.
2) The Earth is a planet which turns once daily on its own axis.
3) Very slow long-term changes in the direction of this axis account for the precession of the equinoxes – this slow wobbling is due to lunar and solar gravitational pull.

This representation is called the heliocentric system.

Copernicus wasn’t the first astronomer to propose this system, for the idea goes back to Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd Century BC. Aristarchus is completely ignored in this book and isn’t even mentioned in the chronology – there’s no index either another major omission – surely there should be some context for such an important discovery? Ptolemy is mentioned only because he wrote the Almagest that Copernicus referred to constantly.

Copernicus’s theory had important consequences for later thinkers of the Scientific Revolution, including such major figures as Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. The book that contains the final version of his theory, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri vi (“Six Books Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs”), did not appear in print until 1543, the year of his death, in fact it’s said that the book was placed in his hand as he lay dying.

It’s important to realise that Copernicus came up with this idea without the use of a telescope.

I’d like to read more about Copernicus and his discovery, but that book will be written by a scientist or an astronomer and not by a novelist.

Published by Julian Worker

I was born in Leicester. I attended school in Yorkshire and University in Liverpool. I have been to 93 countries and territories including The Balkans and Armenia in 2015, France and Slovakia in 2016, and some of the Greek Islands in 2017. My sense of humour is distilled from The Goons, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. I love being creative in my writing and I love writing about travelling. My next books are a travel book about Greece and a novel inspired by Brexit.

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