Copernicus in Context

Nicolaus Copernicus (from Wikipedia)

Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was one of the most important figures in astronomy history. In order to find a better model to predict planet motions, Copernicus developed the heliocentric theory based on Aristarchus’s work. He calculated both the orbital period and distance to the Sun, providing geometric relationships and therefore strengthening the sun-centered idea. His book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium(“On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres”), triggers a shift from the Ptolemaic model to the sun-centered system, which greatly improves the understanding of the universe.

Contemporary Historical Events

Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492.

In 1517, Martin Luther argued for spiritual repentance and opposed Roman Catholic Church’s practice of selling plenary indulgences in the Ninety-five Thesis, which starts the Reformation in Europe.

Contemporary Historical Figure

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was one of the most famous figures during the Renaissance. Known for his paintings Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci is also a great sculptor, architect, and scientist.


It is so interesting to put concurrent historical events in loosely related fields together. While someone was looking at the night sky and trying to prove that the Earth is not the center of the Earth, another person was crossing the ocean under sail, leading people to the discovery of a new continent. I start to realize that people never rest on their journey of exploration. In the 15thand 16thcenturies, pioneers challenged the widely-help “truths” or made new discoveries, which eventually brought huge changes in every aspect of the society. Histories in every field are indeed similar: in order to explore the unknown, people experience numerous failures and never stop in quest of truth in their mind, which continuously pushing the wheel of the history forward.

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