Nicolaus Copernicus

Describe the contribution of Copernicus... to our understanding of the Solar System

For centuries astronomers believed that the Sun and planets orbited the Earth. To us it looks natural; things do appear to orbit us. An ancient philosopher called Ptlomey spread this idea, and it became known as the GEOCENTRIC theory. There was just one problem with it – it was wrong.

Astronomers thought that if the Earth did spin, it would make senses that we would fly off it. Why would birds be able to fly from one position to another without flying backwards, and why did the stars not move from one half of a year to another? These questions have now been answered through understanding gravity and the vast distance of space.

The Moon does indeed orbit the Earth but that is about it. We orbit the Sun, along with everything else in the Solar System.

Copernicus put forward a theory called the HELLIOCENTRIC theory which put the Sun at the centre of the Solar System. Observations of the movements of the planets seemed to show that this was more likely. Today the system is sometimes referred to as the 'Copernicum System'.

Authorities and the public were careful to accept it as it turned against perceived wisdom.

Galileo discussed and spread this idea. He was convinced because of discovering moons around Jupiter and phases of Venus.

Find out how Kepler contributed to the Heliocentric theory.



Copernicus developed the Heliocentric theory of the Sun at the centre of the solar system.


What problems did the Geocentric theory produce for astronomers?