What are Copernicus' contributions to the Renaissance?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, Copernicus' greatest contributions to the Renaissance was the transformative idea that the Earth revolves around the sun.  The basic premise of the Renaissance was to construct theories and ideas that represented transformation and change.  The Renaissance allowed individuals to see what could be as opposed to what is.  It was  a movement conscious of this level of altering the most fundamental of human perceptions of self and world.  Copernicus' analysis and work represents this.  He was not content with the advancement of Earth centered theories that provided a sense of consolation, to a great extent, in trying to make human beings the "center" of the world.  Rather, he was forceful in suggesting that the sun was the basic center of the solar system.  In making such an assertion with scientific analysis, Copernicus actually ended up representing how powerful human beings can be in changing people's minds and how individuals think.  This is a Renaissance element in its purest form.  At the same time, Copernicus was skilled in so many different areas in terms of math, science, politics, and literature that he was able to advance his theory and demonstrate skill in multiple realms that the idea of a "Renaissance" figure was embodied in his being.  In both of these notions, one sees how Copernicus can be seen as a Renaissance figure and in doing so, Copernicus contributes a significant amount to the Renaissance time period.