Renaissance Astronomer Profile: Copernicus (Education and Work)

1497 also marked the year when Copernicus’ uncle was ordained as Bishop of Warmia, where he was eventually named a canon at Frombork Cathedral. He decided to stay in Italy for what was known as the Great Jubilee of 1500. Copernicus traveled to Rome, where he was able to view a lunar eclipse. At the same time, he delivered a few lectures regarding topics of astronomy and mathematics. In 1501, he paid a visit to Frombork, where he immediately asked for and received permission to finish his studies in Padua.

Medicine became his educational drive, which also included a branch of astrological medicine. At Ferrara, he received his doctorate in canon law in 1503. It is believed that during his time in Padua, he studied passages by Cicero and Plato, which stated opinions regarding the movement of the Earth. This would serve as the basis of what would later become his first thoughts of astronomical theory. In 1504, Copernicus started to collect an assortment of observations and ideas that would later shape his own theories regarding the sun, Earth, and the rest of the planets.

After completing his studies, Copernicus left Italy and started a new life at Frombork, where he would continue his work. He is also known for holding a position at the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross in Bohemia, which he took on for many years and only left behind when health concerns forced him to retire. This position would be his last, as it preceded his death. During the last years of his life, he would complete an array of astronomical observations and studied many different calculations, but only when he found the time. Towards the end of his life, he no longer approached astronomy as a professional obligation.

What made Copernicus’ beliefs and theories known on a wide-scale basis involved his studies on heliocentrism, which showed through in a handful of ancient text. For example, a bunch of Vedic Sanskrit writings displayed early glimpses of the helocentric model. These publications date back before the 7th century within ancient India. More than 1,000 years previous, an Indian mathematician and astronomer by the name of Aryabhata is linked to the beginnings of what Copernicus would later expand upon. Copernicus was also known to cite other texts and researchers, such as Aristarchus and Philolaus, including beliefs regarding the “mobility of the Earth.”

To this day, Copernicus theories are highly regarding throughout the world of astronomy. There is usually a collection of parts pertaining to the Copernican system that people tend to study. According to a Wikipedia post, the most important parts of the theory include:

” (1) Heavenly motions are uniform, eternal, and circular or compounded of several circles (epicycles); (2) The center of the universe is near the Sun; (3) Around the Sun, in order, are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the fixed stars; (4) The Earth has three motions: daily rotation, annual revolution, and annual tilting of its axis; (5) Retrograde motion of the planets is explained by the Earth’s motion; and (6) The distance from the Earth to the sun is small compared to the distance to the stars. ”