Educator Resources for Copernicus

Ancient astronomers like Aristotle and Ptolemy believed that Earth was the center of the universe. And who could blame them? They watched the sun and the stars wheel across the sky as the planet seemed to stay perfectly still—all of which supported a geocentric model. Then along came Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric who was bothered by inaccuracies in this way of thought. He suggested a radical idea: Perhaps Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around! This heliocentric model directly opposed the teachings of the Catholic Church. It was so controversial that Copernicus waited until the end of his life to share it. His ideas eventually inspired a revolution in scientific observation and completely changed how we view the universe.