Copernicus doesn’t come up in day-to-day conversations, but perhaps he should: He is considered the founder of modern astronomy and single-handedly changed the way we think about our place in the universe by positing that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around. He remains a patron saint to those who like to question the rules.
And, let’s face it: The plots of sci-fi movies and TV shows such as “Prometheus” and “Star Trek” are all the more fascinating because of our understanding of this great galaxy of ours — and the galaxies beyond. And we have Copernicus, among others, to thank for that.
Copernicus was born in Poland in 1473 and as a young man became fascinated by math, medicine and science, particularly astronomy. His studies led him to challenge what was then a widely accepted belief — that the Earth stood still in outer space while the sun and other celestial bodies rotated around it. Such findings outraged the Roman Catholic Church.
One problem with Copernicus’ observations: They were made with the naked eye, according to NASA’s StarChild page: It would be years before Galileo was able to confirm Copernicus’ observations using a telescope.
The snazzy Google Doodle shows the universe much as Copernicus believed it to be. Take a moment to enjoy the planets swirling gently around the sun, before you get searching.
Happy birthday, Nicolaus Copernicus!
– Rene Lynch