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Nicolaus Copernicus. Portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the Polish astronomer who first described the Sun as being at the centre of the Universe. From 1512 he developed a full mathematical model explaining this cosmology. This system contrasted with that described by Ptolemy over a thousand years before which held that the Universe was Earth-centred. The Ptolemaic system had become the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church. Copernicus, fearing persecution, delayed publication of his book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Celestium (The Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres) until 1543. The book was banned by the Catholic church from 1616 until 1835.
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