Central Europe, Europe, Poland

Poland’s Copernicus – The Revolutionary of Revolutions

Nicolaus Copernicus wrote a book and called it “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” The Heavenly Spheres were the five known planets of his age. The word “planet” came from the ancient Greek word for “wanderer”, because these five planets appeared to wander about against the fixed background of the starry night. These wandering movements had for millennium puzzled and intrigued the minds of people. Copernicus added our Earth to the classification of planets and argued that it moved through the heavens like the other five wanders, and that they all traveled around the Sun.

Galileo was born 21 years after Copernicus died, and built upon the work of Nicolaus.

 

detail from front of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, Nikolai Kopernik

Copernicus wrote the book when he was around 40 years old. But because he anticipated that his ideas would be controversial, he delayed publication until just before his passing about 30 years later.

He didn’t seek to be controversial but merely sought a more elegant explanation for the truth of the observed universe. He sought Beauty. He built upon the ideas of predecessors, many of them out of the mainstream of contemporary thought.

His book is considered now to mark the beginning of the Scientific Revolution which has completely transformed our understanding of the world.

 

detail showing the insight of Copernicus: Revolutions of Planets around Sun, back side of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland

The Sun at center surrounded by 6 circles for the orbits of the 6 planets. (Copernicus assumed orbits were circular as did his predecessors. Later, the true ellipse shape of orbits was uncovered.)

Our Earth is shown in the third orbit at its 4 prime astronomical locations, Spring equinox, Summer solstice, Autumn equinox and Winter Solstice.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing positions of Mercury and Venus

The two nearest planets, Mercury and Venus.

Mercury occupies the innermost orbit.

Venus occupies the second orbit from the Sun.

Our Earth occupies the third orbit from the Sun. It’s four prime orbital positions are illustrated on our banknote.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing position of Mars

 

Mars occupies the fourth orbit from the Sun.

Two of the four prime orbital positions of Earth are shown in the third orbit in this detail.

 

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing orbits of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter occupies the fifth orbit from the Sun.

Saturn occupies the sixth orbit from the Sun.

 

Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, back
Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, front

Nicolai, you’re awesome.

 

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Balkan Peninsula, Europe, Romania, South East Europe

Romania – Marked by the Sun for the New Millenium

The 2000 Lei banknote was designated by Romania to be redesigned in honor of the approaching year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium.  The theme selected was astronomical in view of the happy circumstance of a total eclipse traversing the country in 1999.

Solar systems as depicted on front of 2000 lei banknote, Romania

Our solar system is depicted on the front of Romania’s 2000 Lei banknote.

One can count 8 planets in this artist’s rendition of the solar system.  It was a bold move.

In 1930, Pluto was discovered and considered the solar system’s ninth planet.  In 1992, it was first suggested that this ninth “planet”, Pluto, might be reclassified, no longer as a planet, but, as a dwarf planet.  This suggestion was met with great debate and outcry.

In 1998 our artist prepared this 8 planet mural of our solar system for Romania’s eternal commemoration of the solar eclipse to sweep the country at the dawn of the new millennium.

In 2005, an object 25% more massive than Pluto was discovered orbiting our sun in the Kuiper belt, and Pluto’s fate was sealed.  Both Pluto, and the newly discovered Eris, were classified as “dwarf planets”, and the term “planet” redefined to exclude these smaller bodies.  Therefore, as of 2006, at the beginning of the new millennium, our solar system is considered to consist of just 8 planets.

But Romania depicted it thus in the old millennium!  Rather forward thinking of Romania, don’t you think?

The other side of the banknote features a silhouette map of Romania together with the trail of the sun’s shadow across the country.

detail from Romania 2000 lei banknote.

The colors blue and yellow and red are the colors of the national flag, and color the map of Romania depicted on the banknote.

As the earth rotates eastward towards the sun, our moon, speeding also eastward overhead, but at approximately twice the speed of the land below, moves briefly into that region where it blocks the sun’s rays to the earth.  The track of the shadow cast by the moon, as it eclipses the sun, moves eastward across our earth.  On this day in 1999, it is shown passing through Romania, commencing in the western extremity of the country, and passing through its southeastern regions.

It is a magnificent reminder of the immense movements of this world we inhabit.

 

detail showing track of total solar eclipse in western Romania

The northernmost and southernmost extent of totality ar indicated by the outside pair of lines.  The middle line indicates the center of the shadow track where totality lasts the longest, approximately 2 minutes and 23 seconds.  The adjacent two lines on either side of the centerline indicate where totality lasts 2 minutes.  The next pair of lines indicate 1 minute 30 seconds of shadow, and the next pair of lines indicate 1 minute of shadow.

Major western Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown on the map.

 

Major central and southeastern Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown in this portion of the map of Romania.

Bucuresti is the capital of Romania, and one of the great cities of Europe.  The history of Bucharest dates from at least the 15th century, and was the one time home of Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, or otherwise known as Vlad Dracula; yes, you read that correctly, Dracula.  His name had its origin in the name given to his father, Vlad Dracul, or, Vlad the Dragon, upon becoming a member of the order of the dragon, or dracul.  Dracula is the genitive form of dracul, and means essentially, son of the dragon.  Vlad appears to have been born in 1429 after his father settled in Transylvania, a historic region in central Romania.  The order of the dragon was dedicated to fighting the Ottoman advance into Europe.

A similar map with additional detail, provided by NASA, is included below.

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NASA map showing details of solar eclipse across Romania in 1999