Title page of 'De revolutionibus orbium caelestium', 1543.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Title page of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus' pioneering text 'On the revolution of heavenly spheres' (1543), which represents his complete work. In this text, Copernicus (1473-1543) describes his idea of a sun-centred universe, in which the Earth is merely one of the planets revolving around the Sun and rotating on its axis. Prior to Copernicus, the Earth was considered to be the stationary centre of the universe, as advocated by Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (c 90-168 AD).