VSI CopernicusTo say that Nicolaus Copernicus was a little ahead of his time would be to approach the far boundary of what defines an understatement. After all, proposing that the Earth both revolved on its own axis one per day and orbited the sun once per year was to directly contradict what everyone knew perfectly well: that the Earth was the center of the universe.

Of course, most of us today learn this essential bit of information about the Polish astronomer in our elementary school science lessons. But what of the fact that unlike another prominent medieval astronomer – Galileo – Copernicus not only stood in good relations with the Church in Rome, he held the position of canon. Or that his work was not banned until long after he died, and not for the reasons that might be commonly assumed.

Bringing such commonly overlooked details of the astronomer’s life and work to the attention of a wider audience in an accessible format is at the heart of the new Copernicus; A Very Short Introduction by Owen Gingrich. In a mere 120 pages, a more full and nuanced understanding of The Copernican Revolution as well as the life and times of Copernicus himself is made available to any interested reader – regardless of previous knowledge.