It is natural for humans to view themselves as the center of the universe, and this philosophy was applied to the heavenly bodies during the lifetime of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus was born in Poland during the Renaissance. Books were just beginning to be produced with the invention of the printing press, and Copernicus had access to several ancient science texts.
Ptolemy, an Egyptian who lived nearly 1000 years before Copernicus, created a model of the universe with the Earth at the center. Ptolemy's model was accepted by most common people, scholars and the Catholic Church. Copernicus, studied Ptolemy's model and other ancient theories, before creating his model of the universe which placed the sun near the center.
Since it was a crime to speak out against the church, punishable by death, Copernicus decided to keep his model of the universe to himself. His ideas were finally published at the time of his death. Many of those who believed in his ideas were later condemned by the church, and it was not until the 19th century that Copernicus' work was removed from the banned book list.
The Story of Astronomy is a history book of astronomy beginning with the origins of astronomy in Mesopotamia and Babylonia and continuing through modern time. It details the discoveries of many important astronomers and is a fun history/science read for middle and high school students.
Copernicus' Model of the Universe
- - My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles - -
This silly phrase can help you remember the order of the planets beginning with the sun. Each letter in the phrase begins with the same letter as a planet. My=Mercury, Very=Venus, Educated=Earth, and so on.