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Nicolas Copernicus

1473-1543. Polish doctor and astronomer. Copernicus's interest in astronomy was aroused in his early years at Cracow (1491-94); thereafter he maintained his interest, but was better known as a compassionate physician in his lifetime rather than as an astronomer. His great work, De Revolutionibus, which marks the beginning of the modern scientific era, did not appear until the year of his death. In this work he set forth the modern heliocentric theory: “In the middle of all sits the sun on his throne, as upon a royal dais ruling his children the planets which circle about him.”