Copernicus Heliocentrism and more art by Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus Heliocentrism, 1543

Source: Page of the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus with the Sun at the centre of the Solar System and the planets in orbits around it. Public domain via ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

This diagram from the sole extant manuscript of Copernicus’ 1543 De revolutionibus orbium coelestium marks the beginning of modern astronomy, placing the sun at the center of the solar system. The diagram evolved to show the fixed stars outside the circular orbits and include a crescent moon symbol revolving around the earth. Copernicus’s heliocentric model was imprecise (he still believed that planetary orbits were circular) but powerful enough to upend the entire cosmology of his time, meriting inclusion in the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books by 1616.

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