Human Journey

Nicolaus Copernicus Gets a Google Doodle … And Here’s Why

Copernicus got a Google Doodle!

The late, great astronomer, whose birthday is today, February 19, would perhaps be puzzled by Google – but only for a second. Nicolaus Copernicus was never one to shy away from new ideas (get a modern astronomer’s take on Copernicus).

If you’d like a little primer on why Copernicus deserves a doodle, we have one, courtesy of National Geographic’s 1974 salute to “Pioneers in Man’s Search for the Universe,” written by Thomas Y. Canby.

“The earth … lies right in the middle of the heavens,” the Greek astronomer Ptolemy asserted. His concept helped shackle men’s minds for more than a millennium. Then Nicolaus Copernicus, a scholarly and unassuming administrator in the Roman Catholic Church, triggered a revolution that dislodged earth—and man—from the center of the universe.

“Born in what is now Poland in 1473, Copernicus pursued a Renaissance education that equipped him as physician, lawyer, economist, mathematician, and astronomer. While serving as a canon at the cathedral at Frauenburg (now Frombork), he quietly studied the movements of the planets and stars and compiled a massive work propounding his radical views. Word of them gradually spread across Europe, but for religious and political reasons the reluctant revolutionary delayed publication until the year of his death, 1543.

“Then the world read the words that transformed the universe: ‘As if seated upon a royal throne,’ stated Copernicus, ‘the Sun rules the family of the planets as they circle round him.” At the same time he explained the alternation of day and night by the Earth’s rotation on its axis.’

“ ‘The fool wants to turn the whole science of astronomy upside down,’ Martin Luther is reputed to have warned. Copernicus did just that, and in doing so set astronomy free.”

NEXT: Modern Astronomer’s Take on Copernicus


  • Norm Geltz

    It’s a very nice “doodle”. Unfortunately you’ve missed, in essence, one of the largest ‘key’ points of Copernicus’ Revolution. You don’t have the Earth rotating about (on) its axis. You have the bodies in motion (including the Earth’s Moon satelite) – i.e. they are ‘revolving’. However, you have none of the bodies ‘rotating’ about (on) their axis. Therefore, a nice attempt, yet it is not correct.

  • MB

    I looked up the word “pedant” in a dictionary, and they actually had a picture of a gentleman by the name N. Geltz, as one of the definitions!

  • Norm Geltz

    @ MB – Congratulations on learning a new word – huge plus for you!

  • AK

    And under D-Bag “MB” was found!

  • john rooney

    a thing of beauty is a joy forever! sad that mother earth’s
    diurnal rotation must occasion the decomposition of your
    elegant “doodle” like a mandala ( including the wonderful
    illusion of the gravity warp.) thank you!

  • Jess Ruiz

    OH, snap! Gonna have to apply some ointment to that burn…

  • James Talbot

    Universe spelled wrong in captions for video.

    Just saying.

  • Harinam

    Bravo, Copericus! You didn’t buy the conventional wisdom or the party line.

  • christopher

    I learned this in class science class

  • Dmath

    Nice doodle. Interesting that Google is placing itself in the center of the universe that everything is rotating around. I guess we are all rotating around google these days. This article talks about the ways google sees all.

  • Frank Bergman

    James Talbot: Some brains will correct read misprints without informing us – yours doesn’t. Thanks. Now tell Norm Geltz to rotate his nightpot CCW.

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