Summaries of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo

For 2000 years, Europeans believed earth was at the center of the universe.This is also known as the Ptolemaic theory.Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer in the late 15thearly 16th century was unsatisfied with the belief that all heavenly bodies revolve around the earth.So in 1512, Copernicus set out to explain the theory of a sun centered universe.
Copernicus noticed that the planets varied in brightness and sometimes appeared to move backward in the sky.If the planets were in a perfect circular orbit around the earth, he hypothesized, this should not happen.Although Copernicus was not thefirst person to discount the Ptolemaic theory, he was thefirst to introduce a different theory.His belief of a heliocentric solar system seemed very likely to him, but it needed to be proven.So Copernicus devoted many years making astronomical observations in attempt to bolster support for his theory.But Copernicus was reluctant to make his findings known because he feared criticism from Aristotelian traditionalists.It wasn't until the year of his death in 1543 that he did release the results of his research, which was later published: “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres”.Although his findings lacked sufficient mathematical data to definitively prove the planets orbit the sun, he allowed for future astronomers to extrapolate from his findings and eventually prove the a heliocentric solar system.
Johannes Kepler, born 1571 in Germany, is responsible for discovering his three laws of planetary motion during the 16th and 17th centuries.Kepler, a believer in the Copernican theory that the planets orbit the sun, not only helped support the views of Copernicus, but expanded on them by showing planets have elliptical orbits that operate under certain mathematical principles.While Copernicus suggested that the earth was not the center of the universe, he still assumed that the planets had perfectly circular …

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