BOOK REVIEW: A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel | Science News

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BOOK REVIEW: A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel

Review by Nadia Drake

By
11:48am, October 7, 2011

Daring to defy a centuries-old belief, Polish cleric and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus spun the Earth on its axis and cast it as just one of several planets shuffling around the sun. Published in 1543, Copernicus’ tome On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres earned a spot on the church’s list of prohibited books in 1616, where it sat for more than 200 years.

In her newest book, Sobel describes the evolution of Copernicus’ heretical celestial system, a model that sparked a scientific revolution and challenged the prevailing Ptolemaic alignment, which pinned the Earth in place and set the other spheres swirling around it. In her typically elegant manner, Sobel introduces the reader to Copernicus—a cleric and physician, the nephew of a Catholic bishop,and a reclusive astronomer who studied the heavens in secret.

Sobel describes the events prece

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