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Nicolaus Copernicus. Portrait of the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), who first claimed that the Sun was the centre of the universe, and that all the planets orbited it. He developed a mathematical model for this heliocentric theory, which contrasted with the model described by Ptolemy over 1000 years before. This held that the universe was Earth-centred. The Ptolemaic model was favoured by the Roman Catholic church. Copernicus, fearing persecution, delayed publication of his book, The Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, until 1543. The book was banned by the Roman Catholic church from 1616 to 1835.
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