On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres

On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres - Nicholas Copernicus It wasn’t until some 70 years later, helped by Galileo‘s stubbornness, that the heliocentric universe posited by Copernicus’ book resulted in the Roman Catholic Church decree that heliocentrism was heresy. Copernicus expressed his fear of this reaction, or more likely the scorn of the mathematical community, in his Preface and Dedication to Pope Paul III. With great humility, he submitted the work as a life-long product of observation and study. Despite his fears of discarding a thousand years of a Ptolemic, geocentric universe, he asserted that “[m]athematics is written for mathematicians…” pg. 7. Copernicus is quietly assured of the value of his calculations. He also finds support from his theory among history. Copernicus notes Cicero mentioned Nicetas thought the Earth moved and that Plutarch wrote that Philolaus the Pythagorean said the Earth moved in an obliquely circular motion around “the fire” (interestingly, this is not a reference to the sun because Philolaus though the moon and sun moved around “the fire” as well.)

And then I get lost. Much like the work he was refuting, Ptolemy’s Almagest, equations, charts and graphs dominate the book. Then again, this book wasn’t written for me. It was written for mathematicians. For those of us unversed in the mechanics of astronomical configuration, we are simply left in awe of those disciplined enough to be so,