Copernicus’ father passed away when the boy was only 10 years old. He was raised from then on by his uncle, who was a Bishop with the Church. Copernicus received a top notch education as a result, studying both painting and mathematics at the University of Cracow.
Copernicus graduated in 1494, where he began a canon’s position. The job had been arranged by nicholas’ Uncle, and he was able to hold onto it for the rest of his life. This was most fortunate for Copernicus, because the job gave him the funds he would need to continue funding his studies for the duration of his life.
His astronomical discoveries first took shape in 1496, when he met another astronomer in Italy. Domenico Maria Novara spent time with Copernicus, and the two exchanged ideas to mutual benefit. The two consistently debated the works of Ptolemy, who had long been considered the authority for that era.
By 1508, Copernicus took these ideas and created a model for the heliocentric solar system we know of today. Prior to this moment, Aristotle’s theory was the generally accepted practice of the time. He’d theorized that the solar system revolved around the Earth, with all planets moving in a circular motion at various fixed speeds.
Copernicus published and popularized his theory, not without opposition of course, but he was not the first astronomer to do so. Although Copernicus’ theory was closer to the truth we accept today, Ptolomey’s theories were more acceptable to the church. As a result, even with accurate information predicting the movement of planets, Copernicus’ ideas were never fully accepted in his lifetime.
Interestingly enough, Copernicus was incorrect in much of his thinking. His legacy is that of a lone scientist defending his beliefs against the common man.
About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.