Nicolaus Copernicus: The Galaxies do not Revolve Around Us!

Apr 11, 2021 by

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” Psalm 9: 3-4.

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) For the person known for the “Copernican Revolution,” where and when was he born, and where was he educated?

On February 19, 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus (Latin) was born in Toruń, Poland (then Royal Prussia) to Nicolaus Copernicus Sr. and Barbara Watzenrode. He was the couple’s fourth child. Other forms of his name include Mikołaj Kopernik (Polish) and Nikolaus Kopernikus (German). Copernicus began using the Latin form of his name after attending the University of Kraków. On May 24, 1543, he died in Frauenburg, East Prussia, currently Frombork, Poland, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Copernicus studied Latin, geography, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy at the University of Kraków in 1491. Although there is no documentation of him earning a degree from that university, that was not unusual at the time because a degree was not a requirement for a clerical career or to study for an advanced degree. It is important to note that astronomy courses in Copernicus’ time were not scientific but rather mathematical. Astronomy introduced students to Aristotle and Ptolemy’s understanding of the Universe to allow students the following: an understanding of the Julian calendar, the ability to calculate the dates of holy days practices in the Church and to enable other competencies, such as navigational skills for sea travel, for those students seeking careers outside of the Church. Calculating horoscopes was also a part of astronomy at that time in history.

In 1495, through his uncle’s influence, Copernicus was appointed as a church official of the Catholic Church in Warmia. He used the generous, steady income from the appointment to help pay for further educational opportunities. In 1496, Copernicus studied canon law at the University of Bologna in Italy. While he was studying at the University of Bologna, his interest in astronomy was stirred, possibly due to living in the home of Domenico Maria de Novara, a mathematics professor who influenced him to examine the cosmological philosophies of the day. The Catholic Church was very influential during the time Nicolaus Copernicus lived. People who spoke out against Church doctrines could stand facing execution.

Copernicus was granted a two-year leave of absence and left Bologna with no degree in hand as of 1501. He then began a new path of studies in medicine at the University of Padua. The medical degree curriculum was not limited to anatomy, medicine, and biology-based courses during that time. Copernicus’ curricula most likely included Greek and Islamic technical astronomy and astrology, which were extensively practiced from the fourteenth to the sixteen centuries. It was a commonly held idea that the celestial bodies played a transitional role in creating things here below and continued to affect them throughout their lives.

After two years of medical study at the University of Bologna, Copernicus was faced with yet another move. His medical degree was incomplete because his leave of absence had been terminated. His next move brought him to the University of Ferrara, where he, at last, earned a doctorate in canon law. Instead of returning to Frombork, he again chose to live with his uncle in the episcopal palace in Lidzbark-Warminski. While there, he was engrossed in church politics and tended to his uncle’s medical needs, as well as becoming his personal advisor. After a few years, Copernicus returned to Frombork, where he remained for the rest of his lifetime, to continue his studies in astronomy. Although his uncle died in 1512, Copernicus continued to provide medical care to the new bishop and members of the Cathedral Chapter and dignitaries in East and West Prussia.

After his return to Poland, Copernicus lived in his uncle’s bishopric palace. While there, he performed church duties, practiced medicine, and studied astronomy. His extensive studies compelled him to have confidence that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the Universe. See Figure 14. In addition, he believed the Earth rotated once a day on its axis and revolved around the Sun once each year. Copernicus wrote all his thoughts in a book called On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. The notions written in this book led to Copernicus’ designation as the father of modern astronomy.

Figure 14. The Copernican Model: A Sun-Centered Solar System.

2) His early achievements—were many and varied—what were some of them?

One of his earliest achievements involved his work in the mid-1490s as an assistant to the then famed astronomer Domenico Maria de Novara, whose principal role was to conduct Italy’s astronomical forecasts. In the early years of the 1500s, Copernicus was reported to have been a lecturer in mathematics. He also acquired a brief training in medicine and later became an expert in canon law. Copernicus acquired a teaching post, which became more of a position consisting of office work and medical in nature. His church canon duties consisted of rent collection, managing a brewery and a bakery, plus attending to the medical needs of his uncle Lucas Waczenrode, his mother’s sibling. The latter became the bishop of Ermeland and had secured the post for Copernicus. He was also an expert in Greek and Latin. As such, in 1509, Copernicus translated to Latin a series of Greek letters written as poems by Theophylus Simokatta, who lived during the seventh century in the Byzantine Empire. In his spare time, Copernicus studied the heavens.

In 1514, Copernicus reasoned that the Earth moved about the Sun. He also proposed that the known planets revolved around the Sun too. He did not perform experiments in the scientific sense, nor did he make observations of the heavenly bodies floating in the night skies. Instead, Copernicus conducted what may be considered a “thought experiment.” He constructed a mental picture of the working mechanism of the Universe. During his thinking mode, he did not consider conducting observations of the Universe in the sky to test his outer-worldly predictions experimentally, nor did he expect anyone else to perform the necessary experiments. In purporting these notions, Copernicus provided a model of the solar system, establishing that the “Universe” was centered around the Sun, rather than as an Earth-centered one, as was generally thought in his day. Such a model was called a heliocentric planetary system, Figure 15. He also fine-tuned the orbiting behaviors of the planets, which seemed to undergo a so-called retrograde type of movement in the night skies. The retrograde action of the planets was characterized by their motions in directions that were in the reverse direction of the rest of the stars as they moved in the night sky. To describe the retrograde motion of the planets, Copernicus reasoned that the Earth moved through space, as well. The co-occurring movement of Earth through outer space seemed to explain why the other planets appeared to undergo retrograde motions in the nighttime skies.

Figure 15. Nicolaus Copernicus holding a heliocentric model. Sculpture by Bertel Thorvaldsen (c. 1770-1844).

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicolaus_Copernicus_-_Thorvaldsens_Museum_-_DSC08643.JPG

3) During the time in which he lived, many scientists were burned at the stake and others imprisoned. How did he escape these fates?

Nicolaus Copernicus invoked a series of strategies to avoid imprisonment and execution for heresy. At the time, it was dangerous to go against the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding its view that the Earth was an immovable center of the Universe in which all heavenly objects rotated around this stationary Earth. Thus, to counter that view in writing could place the authors in a dire predicament. Such authors could face the unpleasant experience of the Inquisition, torture, imprisonment, and burning at the stake. Though it was never published in his lifetime, Copernicus prepared a manuscript in 1514 of a so-called heliocentric mechanism in theoretical terms. Copernicus penned that the Sun was the center of the heavenly Universe rather than the Earth. Thus, in Copernicus’s view, the planets rotated about the Sun.

In short, the primary reason, however, that Copernicus escaped a painful death of a burning stake was that he died on his own from a stroke before he could be persecuted and put to death by burning. Before his death, however, he actively tried other tactics. First, he delayed the publication of his heretical works. Some of the reasons for the delay, aside from certain condemnation to a fiery death, was that he had to refine his heliocentric model of the Universe to account for the reasons why heavy objects fall to the Earth, the presence of equinoxes of the Earth’s moving axes, and the mysterious movement of the planet Mercury. He had to invoke a complicated series of explanations to account for the observed planetary motions. Even when he had worked out some of these complications, he refused to publish the works. Another reason for his delay in publishing his manuscript was a concern that Copernicus had about the ridicule that the mathematicians might have bequeathed upon him.

When Copernicus had finally agreed to its publication, his publisher, a young mathematics professor named George Joachim Rheticus, a dedicated student who had convinced Copernicus to publish, went to Nuremberg to oversee the manuscript’s printing. Despite this agreement, Rheticus left the post at Wittenberg to start another appointment elsewhere, at Leipzig, leaving Copernicus’s manuscript to languish. Soon afterward, Andreas Osiander, a theologian, took over the project. However, Osiander grew concerned about the implications of such a revolutionary publication. Thus, he added an amendment in the form of a new preface not authorized by Copernicus. Osiander wrote that Copernicus’s heliocentric hypothesis was merely conjecture and not an accurate description of reality. In March of 1543, the manuscript was published into a book called On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. Other translations include On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.The title was originally published as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium though Copernicus had initially intended a shorter title for the work De revolutionibus.

4) Rotation, revolution, and the idea that the Earth is the center of the Universe—how do these all fit together?

Indeed, each of these terms would hold a tremendous significance for Nicolaus Copernicus. The term rotation here refers to the spinning about of the heavenly bodies, like the planets, the Sun, and, notably, the Earth. These objects in space rotate about an axis, sort of like a spinning top. Regarding the term revolution, Copernicus refers to the orbits of the planetary bodies around the Sun, considering the individual speeds of the planets’ respective revolutions about the Sun. A given planet’s orbit’s speed appeared to correspond to the distance between them and the Sun as its center. With respect to the Earth as the center of the Universe, however, it had been thought since ancient times that the Earth was an unmovable, static center and that the rest of the celestial bodies in space revolved about it. In the thoughts of Copernicus, he switched the locations of the Earth and the Sun.

Thus, before the musings of Copernicus, the Universe consisted of a stationary, immovable Earth at the center. The Earth-centered view was called geocentric, Figure 16. In this scenario, the firmament of the Universe revolved around the Earth’s fixed locale. It was thought that the firmament included the stars, the moon, and the planets, of which five were known, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. This firmament was believed to revolve around an unmoving Earth center. The second century A.D. philosopher Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria wrote a book called Almagest in which he elaborated that these revolutions of the Universe’s objects occurred in perfect circles around the Earth.

Figure 16. Geocentric versus heliocentric model systems.

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After his musings became widely known, the Copernican theory held that the Sun was the center of the Universe, and the planets revolved about this sun center. This so-called heliocentric view of the Universe, the Sun at the center, became a novel prototype of the solar system’s planets revolving around the Sun. Copernicus further calculated the size of the solar-based system of the behavior of the revolving planets.

Whether one understood the Ptolemaic (geocentric) or the Copernican (heliocentric) view

to be the true nature of the Universe, it was clear, nevertheless, that each of the heavenly bodies in space rotated about an axis, even the Sun. The various astronomers of the day quibbled about whether the axes of rotation were themselves centered or occurred off-center. Copernicus predicted that the Earth underwent a swinging motion about its axis of rotation along these lines. He invoked this axis-swinging motion to explain the oscillating movements of the planets, especially since he was hypothesizing that the Earth moved in space around the Sun, too.

In the strictest sense of the word, the views of the Universe, whether geocentric or heliocentric, were not entirely accurate in the day of Copernicus. Today, we understand that the planets, including the Earth, revolve around a rotating sun and that each of these planets rotates, though in different directions, about their respective axes. However, the true so-called center of the real Universe, which we now know to be many orders of magnitude grander than what Copernicus could have ever envisioned, does not exist. One might consider that the locale of the Big Bang as our Universe’s center, but we are unclear about where this locale would be situated. The Big Bang is understood to have happened about 14 billion years ago. A gigantic explosion of epic proportions started the known Universe, and it has been expanding in all directions ever since it transpired. Astronomers think that there is no center to this expanding Universe.

5) Although Copernicus did not “invent” any objects such as a telescope—his discoveries seem to have permeated his time. What were some of his pronouncements that he shared?

Indeed, Nicolaus Copernicus had a longstanding interest in the heavens and the astronomical phenomena within it. While he did not frequently use telescopes to investigate the skies, he did study astronomy from a theoretical perspective. Starting in 1510, Copernicus became dissatisfied with the then prevailing view of the heavens. At that time, the nature of the heavens had been determined by ancient observers like Plato, Aristotle, and relatively more recently by Ptolemy during the second century. In their view, the astronomical system of the heavens consisted of the Earth as the unmoving center of the known Universe with the moon, the Sun, the four planets, and the stars revolved about the Earth in perfectly formed circles. It was a simple model of the heavenly bodies, which was frequently called the Ptolemaic system.

However, one of the criticisms of the Ptolemaic model as pronounced by Copernicus dealt with the discrepancy between the simplicity of the uniformly circular movements of the Sun, planets, and the stars with their actual complicated movements of the planets around the Earth center. He was not alone in these criticisms. New concepts had to be introduced to account for the planets’ nonuniform movements within the Ptolemaic system, such as epicycles, equants, and eccentric spheres. The epicycles consisted of so-called concentric levels or subsidiary spheres of the orbital shells that the planets rode along in the Ptolemaic model. Another concept introduced by Ptolemy was that each heavenly body contained an equant, which consisted of a new axis of planetary rotation. An eccentric was defined as an orbit with a displaced Earth center, differing in a position that was off the Earth’s actual center. These new concepts, the epicycles, equants, and the eccentrics made the simple Ptolemaic system rather complicated. They also trivialized the importance of the then-current Ptolemaic view of the heavens. Furthermore, the Ptolemaic model of astronomy failed to accurately predict the motions and the locations of the planets at any given time.

To address these criticisms of the Ptolemaic astronomical system, Copernicus came up with a revolutionary new theory. He pronounced that all the planets revolved around the Sun and not the Earth. Therefore, the Sun was the center of the known Universe, and the planetary bodies revolved around it! Furthermore, in this new Copernican system, he pronounced that the Earth moved!

6) What do we know, if anything, regarding the man—his personality, his family?

Copernicus’ father was an affluent merchant who died in 1483 when Copernicus was about ten, resulting in his mother’s brother, Lucas Watzenrode, becoming the guardian of the Copernicus siblings. Copernicus’ uncle was a successful cleric in Warmia, located in northern Poland, who ultimately became a bishop in the Catholic Church in 1489. His mother was the beloved daughter of a prominent merchant family in Toruń, Italy.

Given Copernicus’s disposition, he might have liked to have lived a life of solitude at Frauenburg, carrying out his comparatively few duties diligently and dedicating all his spare time to observing, forming his theories of the known Universe, and writing De revolutionibus. It is equally clear that his fame as an astronomer was well known. When the Fifth Lateran Council decided to improve the calendar, which was known to be out of phase with the seasons, the Pope requested the input of experts for advice in 1514 and one of these experts was Copernicus. Many experts went to Rome to advise the Council, but Copernicus chose to respond by letter. He did not desire to contribute more to the calendar discussions since he believed that the celestial bodies’ motions were still not comprehended with sufficient precision.

The peace-filled life, of which Copernicus wished, however, was not easy to find in a period of numerous conflicts. The reinforcements of Frauenburg that formed Copernicus’s homeland had been constructed to protect the town. Unfortunately, on occassion, to no avail.

In 2008, a skull was found in Frombork Cathedral. Researchers announced that it did indeed belong to Copernicus. The skull’s identity was confirmed by scientists who matched DNA from the skull to hairs found in books previously owned by Copernicus. The skull was found by Jerzy Gassowski, an archaeologist at the Institute of Anthropology and Archaeology, who led the excavation in Frombork. A forensic team associated with the Polish police reconstructed how the astronomer might have looked, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. A forensic facial reconstruction of his skull.

7) Apparently, he and a mentor observed the eclipse of the moon—what emanated from this, if anything?

An eclipse of the moon, called a lunar eclipse, occurs when the Earth is caught between the Sun and the moon. During these sorts of lunar eclipses, the Earth can block the sun and form shadows on the moon, perhaps turning the moon darker or completely dark. A lunar eclipse can also alter the moon’s appearance, like its color. Alternatively, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon is caught between the Sun and the Earth. The moon can block the sun and form shadows on the Earth. During solar eclipses, the Sun’s appearance can be affected, perhaps partially or totally obscuring it.

Both lunar and solar eclipses may be partial or total in that the blockages are incomplete and complete, respectively. During total eclipses of the Sun, the daylight can turn ominously dark, as if it were nighttime in the middle of the day. From these sorts of eclipses, one could glean important information. For instance, during a total lunar eclipse, the shadow of the Earth appears on the moon. The center of the Earth’s shadow on the moon’s surface can help discern the location of the Sun. Additionally, the distance of the planets or even the stars from our Sun could be determined.

Copernicus was known to have observed several lunar eclipses. Whenever he had heard of a lunar or solar eclipse, he made every effort to make observations on them. According to one biographer, Copernicus first reported on his observations of a partial eclipse of the moon on November 6 of the year 1500, during the period when he had been lecturing on mathematics. During this period, Copernicus was an assistant to Domenico Maria de Novara, who was reported to have taught Copernicus about the Ptolemaic model of the Heavens. Copernicus observed his second lunar eclipse on the sixth night of October, in 1511. The data he recorded on that night constituted one of his first attempts to reorient the route of the moon along the night sky. On the fifth night of September, in 1522, he collected more data during another lunar eclipse.

However, during a total eclipse of the moon on August 26 of 1523, Copernicus recorded dramatic results. First, he wrote that the full moon on that night started to recede into the Earth’s shadow. Then, when the moon was fully emersed within the shadow of the Earth, the moon, instead of disappearing, turned red! Copernicus had seen a so-called “blood moon.” See Figure 18. While these red moons can also result from dust, smoke, and other atmospheric particles of the Earth, they can turn red during a total eclipse of the moon. During these types of total lunar eclipses, the Earth’s shadow hides the moon from the light of the Sun. During a total lunar eclipse, the blue light from the Sun is bounced away from the air molecules of the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, the only light that reaches the moon’s surface comes from the light that was not scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere, which leaves the moon bathed in a red glow.

Figure 18. Lunar eclipse, featuring a blood moon.

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Importantly, Copernicus collated the data from these sorts of lunar eclipses and redirected the moon’s route. During an eclipse of the moon in December of 1525, Copernicus recorded that it moved in a straight line forward. It did not shift its trajectory backward in the sky as did the planets Jupiter or Saturn, which had exhibited a confounding retrograde type of motion in the heavens. The moon’s straightforward behavior indicated that it was indeed the only heavenly body that orbited the Earth.

One ramification of providing a redirected course of the moon in the sky was that Copernicus would help resolve a controversy regarding the nature of the moon’s size. According to the pathway provided by Ptolemy, the distances between the Earth and the moon were so great that it should have made the moon appear several times larger than truly existed. Even in Ptolemy’s day, the moon did not appear to alter its size so tremendously. However, with the new pathway that Copernicus put forward, the moon could retain its diameter in a consistent manner. According to Copernicus, the moon’s new course, however, meant that it had to revolve around the Earth.

8) On his deathbed, Copernicus was supposedly handed a copy of one of his books—what was the title of the book, and what was it about?

The book you speak of is his famous On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, often referred to simply as On the Revolutions, Figure 19. At the end of the year 1542, a 69-year-old Copernicus suffered a debilitating stroke. He lost his memory, ability to speak and could not move the right side of his body. Thus, he could not oversee the final printing of his book. It became the responsibility of his former student, Professor Rheticus, to undergo the final publication of On the Revolutions while Copernicus lay on his deathbed.

On the 24th day of May, in 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus received most of the final pages of his book and was said by Bishop Tiedemann Giese to have died from complications of the stroke shortly thereafter.

Copernicus had started writing his manuscript for the book in 1514 and was reported to have finished the essence of the book in the early 1530s. He delayed publication for several speculative reasons, such as fear of embarrassment from his peers to fear of torture and execution by burning. The first copies of the newly minted book arrived from the printers when Copernicus was lying on his deathbed.

Figure 19. Revolution of the Spheres by Copernicus (1543).

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The book On the Revolutions contained the notion that the Earth did not stay still, a property as required by Aristotle. The Earth was supposed to be immovable, according to Aristotle, but Copernicus said that the Earth moved in several ways. The Earth was hypothesized by Copernicus to revolve around the Sun. Furthermore, Copernicus wrote that the Earth rotated about its axis. Thirdly, Copernicus stated that the Earth moved its axis about while in space, tilting or swing back and forth. The axis movement of the Earth made more sense to Copernicus than having to explain how the entire Universe did so. In any case, the Earth was not the center of the Universe but an object in space that was subject to a so-called triple motion.

In the On the Revolutions book, Copernicus wrote that the Sun was the de facto center of the Universe if the Earth was not. Accordingly, the known planets revolved around the Sun and not around the Earth. As such, Copernicus had a novel description of the Universe, a sun-centered one in which he had provided a model of the solar system. In now making the Sun as the object to which the planets revolved, the Ptolemaic system of epicycles was no longer required. Instead, the planetary behavior in the sky could be explained simply in terms of the Earthly motion rather than via Ptolemy’s complicated epicycle system.

Copernicus went on to speculate that not only was the Earth spherical but so was the Universe. Their spherical natures were, according to Copernicus, due to the internal gravity keeping together the various objects. He also reflected on the distance of the stars. In On the Revolutions, Copernicus wrote that the stars were significantly more distant in their locations relative to the distances of the planetary orbits. The pronouncement that the stars were much farther away than the orbiting planets helped explain how the stars did not oscillate along with the planets, if indeed the Earth revolved around the Sun, as Copernicus was stating. Thus, such distantly placed stars did not have to as large an extent obey the oscillating movement mechanics like the planets were required to do in the sun-centered Universe of Copernicus. He did relate that the distantly located stars did indeed oscillate, too, but that their degrees of oscillation were relatively smaller compared to that of the closer planets of the solar system.

Copernicus also considered a mathematical model in his On the Revolutions book. He considered the Sun as a center by which the planets, including the Earth, revolved. Copernicus also considered the triple movement action of the Earth: its revolution about the Sun, its rotation about an axis, and its oscillating axis. In his book, he considered the predictions made by his mathematical treatment versus the known observations of the heavenly bodies. Without the benefit of a telescope, the instruments he used were primitive, and he was reported to have made approximately 60 observations of the skies. During lunar eclipses, he took measurements of the elevations of the stars and planets from the visible horizon, as well as the angular distances between them, using elements of trigonometry and Euclidean geometry.

One misstep by Copernicus was that he applied the Ptolemaic principle of uniformly circular movements of the heavenly bodies. Only after the death of Copernicus would anyone know of the elliptical nature of the planetary orbits, as would be established later by Johannes Kepler. Thus, not aware of such non-spherical orbits, Copernicus had to play with smaller double-epicycles to comply with the perfectly circular Ptolemaic orbits, as required.

9) What have I neglected to ask?

It is interesting to comment on the events that transpired shortly after the death of Copernicus in 1543 and what happened when his book On the Revolutions was published. Because of his incapacitating stroke, Copernicus was not able to correct the proofs dealing with the title page and the introductory section, such as the preface. Consequently, the title, which was reported to have been simply On the Revolutions by Copernicus, was altered at the printers to On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. However, the printer, Johannes Petreius, denied the responsibility, claiming that he printed the book precisely as it was given to him.

More seriously, however, the content of the preface took an added tumultuous turn. To his dismay, professor Rheticus found out that the title and the preface section had been altered. He was reported to have crossed out the offending title and the passages of the introduction of his personal copies, even sending such externally annotated copies of On the Revolutions to his associates.

Apparently, Andreas Osiander, whom we have established above as having taken on the supervision, in Rheticus’s absence, for the printing by Petreius of On the Revolutions as written by Copernicus, provided an addendum called Ad lectorem, meaning Address to the Reader. Before Osiander’s revision, Copernicus had included in his preface a letter of support from Cardinal Nicolaus Schonberg as well as a dedication to Pope Paul III, hoping that readers would feel that the Catholic Church would find the work not terribly objectionable. However, Osiander had felt that the book, as written, would not find such a friendly reception by church authorities, and he took it upon himself to fix it.

Osiander wrote in the addendum that the book On the Revolutions was merely a mathematical model and not intended as an accurate description of Nature and the heavens. The book was to make no claim on absolute truth but only to provide possibilities hypotheses for testing. Even though Rheticus had felt that the Ad lectorem by Osiander was beyond the pale, he could do nothing to restore it since it had already been printed and distributed throughout the readership. Petreius never did reprint or restore On the Revolutions. Furthermore, the attempt to “fix it” by Osiander had, nevertheless, ultimately failed, even though both Popes Leo X and Clement VII had referred to On the Revolutions without much controversy.

Nevertheless, theologians said On the Revolutions conflicted with the Bible, and the Aristotelians decried it as absurd, especially when one now had to consider that the entire Earth was flying about in space! Nevertheless, official opposition of the book by the Church was not forthcoming until 1616 when Galileo’s open support of it brought the book to the attention of Church authorities. The book On the Revolutions remained on the Church’s list of prohibited books until its removal in 1835. Since its publication back in 1543, it has remained a masterpiece of science and an influential treatise on the mechanical workings of the solar system and our view of the Universe, the Copernican system, Figure 20.

Figure 20. Copernican System.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Copernican_System_-_Atlas_Coelestis_(1660),_between_30-31_-_BL.jpg

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    This has lots of interesting information.

    Thank you.

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