If you've been over to Google today, you may have noticed their current doodle, which is shaped like an oval and features various slowly revolving spheres. Today's Google doodle honors the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance astronomer and mathematician who came up with the heliocentric model, which defied the common belief that the planets and sun revolved around the earth. Today is his 540th birthday.

Here's a screenshot of the doodle that Google has up on their page today

And if you want to see it in action, here's a video someone uploaded, which shows the planets moving around the sun.

The doodle appears to be inspired by Andreas Cellarius' illustration of the Copernican system, which was published in his star atlas Harmonia Macrocosmica in 1660. It's a great way to acknowledge Copernicus' accomplishments, though they weren't nearly as appreciated at the time of the publication of his book De revolutionizes erbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). Copernicus' book was published in 1543, just before his death. About two decades later, a man named Galileo Galilei was born, and he (among some others) would go on to study and support Copernicus' theories.

CS Monitor lays out a more in depth history of Copernicus and his studies, including his famous seven axioms, the first of which states that there is no one center of the universe.

Happy birthday Copernicus!

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