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19-02-1473

Copernicus is born

On this day in 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus is born in Torun, Poland. The father of modern astronomy, he was the first to propose that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Prior to the publication of his ‘Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs’ in 1543, European astronomers argued that the Earth lay at the centre of the universe, the view held by most ancient philosophers and biblical writers. Copernicus also argued that the Earth turned daily on its axis, and that gradual shifts of this axis accounted for the changing seasons. He died the year his major work was published, saving him from the outrage of some religious leaders who condemned his science as heresy.