Prior to Copernicus’ heliocentric model, the Ptolemaic system was, with the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church, the prevailing astronomical model of the universe in Europe leading up to the 16th Century. A geocentric model, it stated that Earth was the stationary centre of the universe, and used a system of epicycles and deferents (when a planet revolved in a small circle, and this small circle revolved in a bigger circle) were used to describe anomalies such as the retrograde motion of planets. Equants (a point which the centre of a planet’s epicycle moved at a uniform velocity) were used to approximate where planets would be at a certain time. Even though the Ptolemaic model had various defects, as astronomers assumed that all the planets revolved at a uniform rate, planets revolved in perfect circles, and didn’t explain the retrograde motion of planets that it was formulated to do; it was still widely accepted by Western society for the next 1400 years. Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated the heliocentric model of the universe. Copernicus formulated a heliocentric model whilst studying in Lidzbark-Warminski in around 1508, now modern day Poland, after he was dissatisfied with the geocentric models of Ptolemy and Aristotle. Using astronomical observations and mathematical, Copernicus refined his ideas and published De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. This book outlines Copernicus’ 5 key ideas on motion, such as: 1. Planets do not revolve around one fixed point.
2. The Earth is the centre of the Moon’s orbit.
3. The sun is the centre of the universe, and all celestial bodies revolve around it. 4. Stars are stationary, and only appear to move because the Earth is itself moving. 5. Earth moves in a sphere around the sun, causing sun’s year movement. Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was banned by the Roman Catholic Church, but...
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