Nicholas Copernicus

Nicholas Copernicus (kōpûr´nĬkəs), Pol. Mikotaj Kopérnik, 1473–1543, Polish astronomer. After studying astronomy at the Univ. of Kraków, he spent a number of years in Italy studying various subjects, including medicine and canon law. He lectured c.1500 in Rome on mathematics and astronomy; in 1512 he settled in Frauenburg, East Prussia, where he had been nominated canon of the cathedral. There he performed his canonical duties, practiced medicine, was a legal officer, and wrote a pioneering treatise on currency reform. But the work that immortalized him is De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, in which he set forth his beliefs concerning the universe, known as the Copernican system. That treatise, which was dedicated to Pope Paul III, was probably completed by 1530 but was not published until 1543, when Copernicus was on his deathbed. Modern astronomy was built upon the foundation of the Copernican system.

See his complete works (3 vol., 1973–85, ed. and tr. by E. Rosen); biography by J. Repcheck (2007); studies by E. Rosen (1984, 1995), O. Gingerich (2004), and D. Sobel (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Nicholas Copernicus: Selected full-text books and articles

Nicholas Copernicus, 1543-1943 By Stephen P. Mizwa Kosciuszko Foundation, 1943
Three Copernican Treatises By Nicholas Copernicus; Edward Rosen Columbia University Press, 1939
The Copernican Plan Evaluated: The Evolution of a Revolution By Carroll, Joseph M Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 76, No. 2, October 1994
The Book of the Cosmos: Imagining the Universe from Heraclitus to Hawking By Dennis Richard Danielson Perseus Publishing, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Part Three "Copernicus to Newton"
The Origins of Modern Science: 1300-1800 By H. Butterfield Macmillan, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "The Conservatism of Copernicus"
Main Currents of Scientific Thought: A History of the Sciences By S. F. Mason Henry Schuman, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "The Copernican System of the World"
A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries By A. Wolf; F. Dannemann George Allen & Unwin, 1935
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "The Copernican Revolution"
The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia By Gary B. Ferngren; Edward J. Larson; Darrel W. Amundsen; Anne-Marie E. Nakhla Garland, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "The Copernican Revolution" begins on p. 334
Foundations of Modern Cosmology By John F. Hawley; Katherine A. Holcomb Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Copernicus" begins on p. 34
The Power of the Written Word: The Role of Literacy in the History of Western Civilization By Alfred Burns Peter Lang, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "From Copernicus to Newton"
Kant's Newtonian Revolution in Philosophy By Robert Hahn Southern Illinois University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Kant, Copernicus, and the Copernican Revolution in Philosophy"
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