Woodcut
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
Nuremberg: Johannes Petreius, 1543
Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library
Astor Library
 
launches separate browser  
(160 k)  

The most justly famed illustration of Western science, this image in the first printed edition of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium [On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres] shows the Sun at the center of the universe. Copernicus's theory of a heliocentric universe made use of the cycles and epicycles that characterized the Ptolemaic system. But by placing the Sun at the center, Copernicus was able to explain observed phenomena in a simpler and more elegant manner. The concentric circles, which represented the heavenly spheres, continued to be used until the end of the seventeenth century.


SEE the Exhibit     |     LEARN About the Exhibit     |     The New York Public Library Homepage

© 2001 The New York Public Library