Nicolaus Copernicus, born in Toruń, Poland on 19 February 1473, is undoubtedly one of the most important astronomers of all time. He was the first to provide proof that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was at the centre of the Solar System, which many scientists regard as the beginning of our increased scientific understanding of the universe.
Copernicus’ father passed away at the age of ten and thus he entered the care of his uncle, Bishop of Varmia Lucas Watzenrode, who ensured that Copernicus was given a proper education. He studied painting and mathematics at the University of Cracow in 1491 and began to develop an interest in the cosmos.
Upon graduation three years later, Copernicus took a canon’s position at Frombork’s cathedral back in Toruń, a job he held for the rest of his life. A four-year period of leave in 1496 to the University of Bologna saw him meet astronomer Domenico Maria Novara, who would encourage Copernicus to pursue his dream of astronomy. After further studies at the University of Padua and University of Ferrara, where he studied practical medicine and canon law respectively, he resumed his position as a canon.
It wasn’t until 1508 that he ...