bestreferat-13842.docx - Nicolaus Copernicus Born 19 Feb...

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Nicolaus Copernicus Born: 19 Feb 1473 in Torun, Poland Died: 24 May 1543 in Frombork, Poland Nicolaus Copernicus is the Latin version of the famous astronomer's name which chose later in his life. The original form of his name was Mikolaj Kopernik or Nicolaus Koppernigk but we shall use Copernicus throughout this article. His father, also called Nicolaus Koppernigk, had lived in Krakow before moving to Torun where he set up a business trading in copper. He was also interested in local politics and became a civic leader in Torun and a magistrate. Nicolaus Koppernigk married Barbara Waczenrode, who came from a well off family from Torun, in about 1463. They moved into a house in St Anne's Street in Torun, but they also had a summer residence with vineyards out of town. Nicolaus and Barbara Koppernigk had four children, two sons and two daughters, of whom Nicolaus Copernicus was the youngest. You can see a picture of the house in which Copernicus was born. When young Nicolaus was ten years old his father died. His uncle Lucas Waczenrode, who was a canon at Frauenburg Cathedral, became guardian to Nicolaus and Barbara Koppernigk's four children. You can see a picture of Lucas Waczenrode. Nicolaus and his brother Andreas remained in Torun, continuing their elementary education there. In 1488 Nicolaus was sent by his uncle to the cathedral school of Wloclawek where he received a good standard humanist education. After three years of study at Wloclawek he entered the University of Krakow (situated in what was then the capital of Poland). By this time Lucas Waczenrode was Bishop of Ermland and he envisaged a church career for both of his nephews. Andreas, Nicolaus's brother, entered the University of Krakow at the same time, and both their names appear on the matriculation records of 1491-92. University education at Krakow was, Copernicus later wrote, a vital factor in everything that he went on to achieve. There he studied Latin, mathematics, astronomy, geography and philosophy. He learnt his astronomy from Tractatus de Sphaera by Johannes de Sacrobosco written in 1220. One should not think, however, that the astronomy courses which Copernicus studied were scientific courses in the modern sense. Rather they were mathematics courses which introduced Aristotle and Ptolemy's view of the universe so that students could understand the calendar, calculate the dates of holy days, and also have skills that would enable those who would follow a more practical profession to navigate at sea. Also taught as a major part of astronomy was what today we would call astrology, teaching students to calculate horoscopes of people from the exact time of their birth. While a student in Kraków, Copernicus purchased a copy of the Latin translation of Euclid's Elements published in Venice in 1482, a copy of the second edition of the Alfonsine Tables (which gives planetary theory and eclipses) printed in Venice in 1492, and Regiomontanus's Tables of Directions (a work on spherical astronomy) published in Augsburg in 1490. Remarkably Copernicus's copies of these works, signed by him, are still preserved.

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