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Copernicus Unearthed?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2006 11:26
Published on Friday, 11 November 2005 00:00
Polish archaeologists think the skulls and bones they excavated last year in a Polish church are very probably the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy.

The bones were used to make a facial reconstruction. However when Copernicus died in 1543 at the age of 70 he was not a celebrity, so few paintings of him are available with which to make a comparison .

His famous book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres),  in which he first proposed that the Earth revolves around the Sun, was largely ignored when it was first published. However, after Galileo, the heliocentric universe became firmly established and ensured that Copernicus 's name now stands as one of the most significant in the history of science.

The library of the RAS holds a reproduction, in full colour, of the autograph of  De Revolutionibus  which is preserved in the Jagiellonian Library in Cracow.