Copernicus was a Polish astronomer, physician, mathematician, polyglot, classical scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, jurist, diplomat and economist, so a great Renaissance polymaths.
He was the first astronomer to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the Universe.
Copernicus was the first person in history to create a complete and general system, combining mathematics, physics, and cosmology.
Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy.
His heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe.
By attributing to Earth a daily rotation around its own axis and a yearly revolution around a stationary Sun, he developed an idea that had far-reaching implications for the rise of modern science.
Aristarchus, an early Greek, had proposed similar ideas, but few accepted them. Copernicus revive this idea and asserted, that astronomy must describe the real, physical system of the world.
His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of science. At the same time only with Johannes Kepler was Copernicus's model fully transformed into a new philosophy about the fundamental structure of the universe. Modern astronomy was built upon the foundation of the Copernican system.
Because Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the planets defied 1,500 years of tradition, some historians mark the publication date of De revolutionibus as the beginning of the “scientific revolution” or Copernican Revolution in science.
He lectured c.1500 in Rome on mathematics and astronomy. In 1503 he mooved to Ferrara where, on 31 May 1503, having passed the obligatory examinations, he was granted the degree of doctor of canon law. In this year 30-year-old Copernicus returned to Warmia, where he would live out the remaining 40 years of his life. Copernicus was his uncle's secretary and physician from 1503 to 1510 and resided in the Bishop's castle at Heilsberg.
in 1512 he settled in Frombork (Frauenburg) a town to the northwest at the Vistula Lagoon on the Baltic Sea coast (East Prussia), where he had been nominated canon of the cathedral.
There in Frombork he performed his canonical duties, practiced medicine, was a legal officer, and wrote a pioneering treatise on currency reform. He took advantage of his financial security to begin his astronomical observations. There Copernicus conducted over half of his more than 60 registered astronomical observations.
Hesitant to publish his work for fear of being charged with heresy, Copernicus summarized it at 1530 in treatise, which was dedicated to Pope Paul III and circulated it among Europe's scholars, where it was greeted with enthusiasm.
His work, titled De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was finally published in 1543, apparently just a few weeks before he died.
Nicolaus was the youngest of four children in family. After his father died in 1483 he was put under the guardianship of his uncle, a bishop of Warmia (Poland).
He was educated at Jagiellonian University, Krakow and also at Bologna, and Padua, where he mastered all the knowledge of the day in mathematics, astronomy, canon law, medicine and theology.
Copernicus never married or had children.
Copernicus spoke Latin, Polish, and German with equal fluency. He also spoke Greek and Italian.
He died on May 24, 1543 in Frauenburg, East Prussia (now Frombork, Poland).
Remains: Buried, St. John's Cathedral, Frombork, Poland.