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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Fox

The True Center Of Our Solar System

This post is about Nicolaus Copernicus and the discoveries he made during the scientific revolution.

In my inhale, I researched Nicolaus Copernicus and his discoveries, including his theories about our solar system. I watched videos and read articles about him and people who encouraged his research. I used goals 5 and 7 to research a topic that interested me and researched a persuasive text. For my exhale, I created a poster demonstrating two different theories on our solar system, one followed by the church and the other followed by Nicolaus Copernicus. The goals I used for this Exhale were 10 and 16. I created a text that uses strategy and techniques to address my audience, also noted key information, and used specific quotations to summarize my main ideas.

Artist Statement For Exhale

For this Room To Breathe project, I got to explore a topic that interests me, astronomy. For my inhale I learned about Nicolaus Copernicus and his major contribution to astrology. In my research, I discovered he was one of many important astronomers who helped to piece together our current-day understanding of the earth's place in our solar system. For my exhale I wanted to share what I’d learned and make it understandable to a younger audience. I created a poster that shows the comparison between an older belief about the solar system compared to what Copernicus and his fellow astronomers discovered. In this text, I will be sharing more about Copernicus’s discoveries, and other revolutionary thinkers (and how they contributed to the scientific revolution of the solar system), and I will be explaining in depth the meaning of my informational poster.

Before Nicolaus Copernicus and his discoveries, a Catholic astronomer named Ptolemy and his theories were believed to be the truth. Ptolemy believed that the earth was the center of the solar system and all other planets revolved around it, in their own orbits. This was called the Geocentric Theory.

Nicolaus Copernicus was born in 1473 in Poland. He was university-educated. He studied mathematics, astronomy, and law. But he is famous for being the first modern European scientist to propose that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun - the Heliocentric Theory of the universe. He proved that the Geocentric view was not factual. He made his discoveries with the naked eye (telescopes were not yet invented). Copernicus wanted his theory shared around the world so he wrote De Revolutionibus (aka De Rev), a manuscript, including that the retrograde motion of the planets is caused by the fact that we observe them from a moving location because the earth is orbiting the sun. Retrograde motion is the orbital or rotational motion of an object in a direction opposite from the central object. Although his theories were controversial at the time, he was accepted in his field and not the target of the church.

Copernicus wasn’t necessarily a revolutionary in astrology. He just built off of what others already knew but hadn’t been able to share. Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer figured out the order first. But Aristarchus was born in 310 BC - and his ideas were way ahead of his time. The Geocentric view would hold for many more centuries until Copernicus brought it back. After Copernicus’s book and theories became more well known, other astronomers would come along and build on his model. It formed strong connections for future scientists, such as Galileo to build on and improve on the motion of planets in the universe.

For my poster, I have illustrated the original understanding of the solar system. The Geocentric Theory was supported by the Catholic Church because of scripture in the Bible that implied that the earth did not move. In the Geocentric view, the planets are much bigger and closer in orbit, the earth is in the middle and everything revolves around it. The earth also does not rotate. The Heliocentric Theory popularized by Copernicus was able to prove that the sun was the center of our solar system and all other planets rotate in orbit around it. Planets are also much smaller and further away in orbit. The earth and the moon are in their own orbit. The moon is orbiting the earth which is orbiting the sun.

This project taught me how we came to understand our solar system and appreciate the curious minds that helped us to no longer question where we are in the solar system.

Photo of Exhale poster:

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