Nicolaus Copernicus was born 540 years ago today.
So who was Copernicus, exactly? Well, for one, he was the man who first taught us that the earth revolves around the sun, and not the other way around.
Copernicus was born in 1473, in Torun, Poland a low-slung city on the Vistula River. His father was a wealthy merchant, his mother came from a well-established merchant family, and Nicolaus, the youngest of four children, was afforded a comfortable upbringing and a comparably rich education. When he was 10, his father died, and the Copernicus kids passed into the care of their uncle, Lucas Watzenrode.
Watzenrode would eventually become a high-ranking bishop in the Catholic church; with his help, Copernicus, who had studied astronomy and astrology at the University of Krakow, was granted a position as a canon in Warmia, in northeastern Poland. But before moving to Warmia, Copernicus traveled to Bologna, in Italy, to study canonical law.
In Bologna, he had additional time to study mathematics and astrology, this time as an assistant to Domenico Maria the Ferrarese of Novara a professor at the local university. Later, he spent some time at the University of Padua, where he boned up on contemporary medicine, and at the University of Ferrara, where he eventually earned his doctorate in canonical law. By 1503, he was back in Warmia, where he remained until his death.