Posted in Astronomy, Unquantified fragments of numbers

Copernicus and the calendar

The Renaissance Mathematicus

A recent blog post on Yovisto repeats a very widespread myth concerning Copernicus, his De revolutionibus and the calendar reform of 1582. This particular myth is so prevalent that I have no illusions about stamping it out but as a bone fide history of science myth buster I thought I could at least put the record straight in my little corner of the Internet.

Astronomers and mathematicians had been aware that all was not well with the Julian calendar since at least the time of the Venerable Bead in the ninth-century CE. The average length of the solar year produced by this calendar, with a leap year every four years, was about eleven minutes too long producing a slippage of the calendar against the natural year of one day every one hundred and twenty-eight years. This might not seem like an awful lot but over the centuries it accumulates. As…

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"If he's honest, he'll steal; if he's human, he'll murder; if he's faithful, he'll deceive. Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution." I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing."

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