Early responses to CopernicusBy 1510, Nicholas Copernicus(1473–1543) had hit on idea of switching positions of Earth and Sun in the Ptolemaic system; believed it gave a simpler, more unified explanation of observed motions of heavenly bodies. Copernicus was an astronomical purist; insisted only uniform circular motions can exist in the heavens. Eliminated Ptolemy’s equants,but still used (small) epicycles to make his model fit observed motions of planets. Ended up with almost as many total circles as Ptolemy, and only modestly better fit to observations, but overall structure seemed more harmonious. Copernicus’s moving Earth contradicted Aristotelian physics, as well as common sense. Acceptance of the new astronomy required a new physics, but Copernicus was unable to supply one; he just argued that astronomical
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