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Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Thorn Poland on February 19 1473 He was the son of a wealthy merchant After his fathers death his mothers brother a bishop in the Catholic Church raised him Copernicus studied mathematics and astronomy at the University of Krakow Through his uncles influence Copernicus was appointed a canon church official of the Catholic Church He used the income from the position to help pay for additional studies Copernicus studied law and medicine at the universities of Bologna Padua and Ferrara in Italy While he was studying at the University of Bologna his interest in astronomy was stimulated He lived in the home of a mathematics professor who influenced him to question the astronomy beliefs of the day After his return to Poland Copernicus lived in his uncles bishopric palace While there he performed church duties practiced medicine and studied astronomy In Copernicus time most astronomers believed the theory the Greek astronomer Ptolemy had developed more than 1000 years earlier Ptolemy said the Earth was the center of the universe and was motionless He believed all other heavenly bodies moved in complicated patterns around the Earth Copernicus felt that Ptolemys theory was incorrect Sometime between 1507 and 1515 he first circulated the principles of his heliocentric or Sun-centered astronomy Copernicus observations of the heavens were made with the naked eye He died more than fifty years before Galileo became the first person to study the skies with telescope From his observations Copernicus concluded that every planet including Earth revolved around the Sun He also determined that the Earth rotates daily on its axis and that the Earths motion affected what people saw in the heavens Copernicus did not have the tools to prove his theories By the 1600s astronomers such as Galileo would develop the physics that would prove he was correct Copernicus died on May 24 1543
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