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


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