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Why is Nicolaus Copernicus famous?

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Quick Answer

Nicolaus Copernicus is best known for being the father of what would later become humans' modern understanding of the solar system. Prior to this determination, scientists believed that all the objects in the solar system orbited around the Earth itself.

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Why is Nicolaus Copernicus famous?
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Fortunately for modern astronomers, Copernicus possessed the strength of character necessary to endure the maelstrom that followed his announcement. Until then, it was standard thinking in the West culture, as well as a part of religious dogma, that God had set all things in motion in the manner outlined by Ptolemy. By contradicting Ptolemy's description of how the solar system functioned, Copernicus also contradicted the sincerely held beliefs of the Church and its adherents. He would later be excommunicated by the Church as a heretic, and many who took up his call would follow the same path. It would not be until much later, with Galileo's refinement of the telescope, that concrete evidence would be discovered. Even so, Galileo himself was placed on trial for heresy, found guilty, forced to recant and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Then referred to as heliocentrism, Copernicus' theory is now widely regarded as one of the most ground-breaking discoveries of his time.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What were the achievements of Nicolas Copernicus?

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    The greatest achievement of Nicolas Copernicus was the publication of his book, "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just before he died in 1543. This major event in the history of science began the Copernican Revolution and fueled the scientific revolution, according to About.com.

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  • Q:

    Which famous astronomer observed Venus and Jupiter and supported Copernicus's theory of a heliocentric solar system?

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    Seventeenth-century astronomer Galileo Galilei is widely credited with convincing major church leaders and prominent scientists that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the solar system. Galileo was the first astronomer to study astronomy with a telescope, which helped him validate Nicolaus Copernicus' early 16th-century heliocentric theories.

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  • Q:

    How do space craters get their names?

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    The International Astronomical Union (IAU), an organization of astronomers, names the craters on planets and moons in the solar system by giving each planet a creative theme. For example, the moon’s craters are usually named for deceased explorers, scientists and scholars, while large craters on Venus are named for famous women in various professional fields.

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  • Q:

    What does "solar system" mean?

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    The term "solar system" refers to the sun and all the bodies that are caught in its gravitational field. This includes the eight planets, several dwarf planets, the moons and a variety of asteroids and comets.

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