Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543)

Nicolaus Copernicus [Nikklas Koppernigk] was born on 19 February 1473 in Torun, Poland.

Nicolaus Copernicus image
Painting of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543).
Credit: Wikipedia.

He first studied at Cracow from 1492 to 1494, then in 1496 was sent to Italy to study Canon Law at the University of Bologna. In 1501 he began medical studies at the University of Padua, and finally took his Law degree at the small University of Ferrara in 1503. In 1497, while still in Italy, he was made Canon of the Frombork [Frauenberg] cathedral by his maternal uncle and protector Lucas Watzenrode, bishop of Varmia. This provided Copernicus with a secure and relatively remunerative position which he held to the end of his life, allowing him the freedom to pursue his interest in astronomy.

Copernicus' landmark work on the Revolutions, "De revolutionibusorbium coelestium", was dedicated to Pope Paul III and published in 1543 in Nurenberg, as Copernicus lay on his deathbed. However, his heliocentric hypothesis had been circulating forover 30 years, starting with his Commentariolus, written between 1512 and 1515 and circulated in manuscript form. George Joachim Rheticus (1514–1574), who joined Copernicus in Frombork in 1539 as his first and only disciple, published in 1540 his Narratio Prima, a first account of the Copernican planetary model. Copernicus died on 24 May 1543 in Frombork.

Bibliography:
Copernicus, N., On the Revolutions. Edited and translated by E. Rosen, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Rusinek, M. 1973, Land of Copernicus. Twaine Publishers, N.Y.