Nicholas Copernicus and the Founding of Modern Astronomy

Nicholas Copernicus and the Founding of Modern Astronomy

5.0 1
by Todd Goble

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This biography of the man who changed the course of the scientific study of astronomy is obviously well researched and full of information. Copernicus was raised by and his education paid for by his uncle, who encouraged him to spend his life as an administrator of the Church. While working in that capacity, he also quietly developed his revolutionary theory of the sun as center of the planets. His book was published right before his death and had a profound effect on the world of science. An understanding of the world of Copernicus is well defined, as detailed sidebars add explanations of terms such as knightly orders and Ptolemy's planetary order. Biographies of people who might not be familiar to the reader, for example, Paracelsus and Martin Luther, are incorporated as well. Included are a timeline, source notes for each chapter, bibliography, Web sites, and an index. This text will be useful for research, and the wealth of information may in fact inspire budding young astronomers. 2004, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Ages 12 to 15.
— Micki S. Nevett
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-This methodical biography places the astronomer within the turbulent political and religious events of his times and the concurrent intellectual riptides that marked the shift from medieval to modern science. Raised by a wealthy uncle, Copernicus studied at several universities before taking up duties as a church official in a disputed Polish province; he became a capable administrator, ultimately charged with overseeing the area's recovery after a devastating war. However, he was also developing, and very cautiously promoting, revolutionary (so to speak) ideas about the relationship between Earth and its sun-impelled, argues the author, not so much by his own observations as by the conviction that the Ptolemaic model of the universe conflicted with Aristotelian principles. Though Goble's sometimes-technical account of Copernicus's theory needs a few more diagrams to achieve total clarity, numerous contemporary portraits and other art give this study strong visual appeal, while an array of side essays, print resources, and Web sites enhances its scope. Catherine M. Andronik's Copernicus: Founder of Modern Astronomy (Enslow, 2002) includes hands-on demonstrations, but is less detailed; consider this a companion to William J. Boerst's Tycho Brahe: Mapping the Heavens (Morgan Reynolds, 2003) for serious students of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the history of scientific ideas.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Morgan Reynolds, Incorporated
Publication date:
Profiles in Science Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.92(w) x 9.44(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
10 - 17 Years

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Nicholas Copernicus and the Founding of Modern Astronomy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a surprisingly well-written and informative biography of Copernicus considering that it is ostensibly aimed at the middle school market (ages 9-12). I suspect it's put in this category only because it is short (144 pages) and cites only a few, secondary sources. I found this little book to be such a gem. It's enhanced with nice illustrations and portraits from the Renaissance period, many in color, as well as many relevant sidebars, and a handy biographical timeline on Copernicus in the back, preceding the index. Having been a collector of books on Copernicus for over three decades, I was treated to some interesting facts in Todd Goble's brief biography that I hadn't noticed in longer ones before. For example, about how money was probably a determining factor in Copernicus switching universities. In the middle of what turned out to be more than a decade studying at four universities, Copernicus spent three years attending the University of Bologna which was considered the best place in Europe for studying canon (church) law, and then he moved on to the University of Padua to study medicine. After a couple of years, when Copernicus came back for a few months to complete the examination for his degree in canon law, he did so at the smaller University of Ferrara in Italy -- probably, as Goble persuasively explains, because it was much cheaper. Not having all his friends from Bologna around, it was also quieter. Nice detail. Also, unlike longer biographies of Copernicus which only briefly mention his live-in housekeeper, Anna (perhaps judiciously), Goble profiles how the sixty-five year old unordained church administrator deflected his scandal-sensitive bishop's efforts to have him send her away. It seems to have taken more than six months for the bishop to prevail. Unlike what is too commonly found in adolescent- length biographies, I did not find this author distorting fact or compromising accuracy for brevity. In fact, the author displays such a sure hand with elements of the story of this visionary but timid canon that he appears familiar with Copernicus well beyond the few references he provides in the book's bibliography. The fact that two of his background references are scholarly works by eminent historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, probably better reflects Goble's competence with his subject. So many of us seem to have less time to read anymore. I think the biggest benefit of this short read will be to allow more people to become acquainted with the role in history of Nicholas Copernicus -- the man whose scientific work he did quietly in his spare time and which he published only at the end of his life. His book ended up overturning more than medieval astronomy, it initiated the Scientific Revolution and ultimately changed our view of our place in the universe. For anyone interested in a concise yet reliable biography of this critical historical figure, this is it.