Nicolaus Copernicus celebrated in Google doodle

Astronomer whose heliocentric theory of the solar system triggered a revolution in scientific thinking was born on 19 February 1473

Google's latest doodle celebrates the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the astronomer who transformed our understanding of the solar system and is best known for his theory that the sun and not the Earth is at the centre of the universe.

Born on 19 February 1473 as the son of a merchant in the city of Toruń, Poland, he studied at Krakow Academy, now the Jagiellonian University, before travelling to Italy to study law in 1496.

While studying at the University of Bologna, his passions for geography and astronomy were encouraged by a mathematics professor, Domenico Maria de Novara.

He returned to Poland and worked there for several years as a secretary to his uncle, a bishop, before taking on an administrative post in the city of Frauenberg, where he continued to study astronomy.

By 1514, at the behest of the Catholic church, he was involved in working to improve the calendar and in 1530 produced a major piece of research, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres).

His observations were the first to place the sun, not the Earth, at the centre of what is now known as the solar system.

His heliocentric revolution was condemned by Martin Luther.

He died in May 1543. Legend has it that the first printed copy of De Revolutionibus was placed in his hands on the day of his death.

His long-lost skeleton was located in 2005 under floor tiles near one of the side altars in the 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral in Frombork.

Guardian staff

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