• Intro

    In his 1543 book ‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres', Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) caused another revolution, by stating that science, not religion, best explains how the universe works.


    Before Copernicus, people believed that the earth was at the centre of the universe, and that the sun and planets revolved around it. But this model couldn't explain the patterns seen in paths through the sky over time. While working in church administration in the 1510s, Copernicus was asked by the Pope to fix calendar inaccuracies caused by this problem.


    By 1530, he had a theory that neatly explained the sky's movements, but it depended on the earth and other planets revolving around the sun, and he knew the Church would see this as heresy. Eventually the book was published shortly before he died, but it took until 1616 for the controversy to explode, when Galileo once again challenged the Church.



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