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Dictionary of Astrological and Astronomical Terms

Compiled by Julene Packer-Louis, Evan Bortnick, and Jackie Goldstein

Copyright 2000-2020 OCA, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of the dictionary may be reproduced in any form without written permission.


Copernicus, Nicolaus (1473-1543)

Gifted Polish theorist who first formulated a heliocentric system of planetary movement, published in his work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in 1543.

To that date, no one had challenged Ptolemy's Earth-centered system. Copernicus proposed that a rotating Earth revolving with the other planets about a stationary central Sun could account, in a simpler way, for the same observed phenomena of the daily rotation of the heavens, the annual movement of the Sun through the Ecliptic, and the periodic retrograde motion of the planets

However, because his work still allowed for perfectly circular orbits and solid celestial spheres, the Catholic church and many of his contemporaries had a hard time totally condemning him. His work marked the beginning of the scientific revolution. Kepler, Galileo, and Newton continued his work.

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