Copernicus to the Big Bang - Nicolaus Copernicus

The period from Copernicus to Newton is certainly one of the
richest and most important in the history of astronomy.
Material covering this period is plentiful and one of the
chief challenges for the casual historian of astronomy is
culling through the options and deciding what to read.

Certainly biographies figure high on the priority list.
Galileo and Newton have no shortage of books devoted to their
lives and work. Biographies of Copernicus are rare because
relatively little is known of his life. Kepler and Tycho fall
somewhere in the middle.

Ptolemaic System
Nicolas Copernicus

  When "On the Revolutions" appeared in 1543, it was attacked by
  Protestant theologians who held the premise of a heliocentric
  universe to be unbiblical. Copernicus' theories, they reasoned,
  might lead people to believe that they are simply part of a
  natural order, and not masters of nature, the center around
  which nature was ordered.

  Because of clerical opposition, and perhaps also general
  incredulity at the prospect of a non-geocentric universe,
  between 1543 and 1600, fewer than a dozen scientists embraced
  Copernican theory.
  But among those "scientists" being influenced by Copernicus'
  Sun centered cosmology where Tycho Brahe, Johannas Kepler and
  Galileo Galilei.
                     Copernicus (1473-1543)
      Tycho Brahe   Johannas Kepler       Galileo Galilei
      (1546-1601)    (1571-1630)           (1564-1642)

  It was Copernicus' little book that really got the revolution
  going. Isaac Newton would eventually put it all together in
  his Principia, giving us Classical Mechanics, and a theory of 
  gravitation that worked in the heavens the same as on Earth.

Copernican Principle
  The Copernican Principle is a basic statement in physics
  that there should be no "special" observers. For example,
  the Aristotelian model of the solar system in the Middle
  Ages placed the Earth at the center of the solar system, a
  unique place since it "appears" that everything revolved
  around the Earth. Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated that this
  view was incorrect and that the Sun was at the center of the
  solar system with the Earth in orbit around the Sun.

  The implications of Copernicus' work can not be exaggerated.
  His views challenged the literal interpretation of
  Scripture, the philosophical and metaphysical foundations of
  moral theory, and even common sense itself. The result was a
  massive opposition to his reported ideas. It was the slow,
  sure acceptance of the heliocentric theory by natural
  philosophers that ultimately quieted the general clamor,
  however the name of Copernicus is still a battle cry against
  the establishment in religion, philosophy and science. In
  later years with Freud, man lost his Godlike mind; with
  Darwin his exalted place among the creatures of the Earth;
  with Copernicus man had lost his privileged position in the

Proof that the Earth goes around the Sun

On The Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres
by Nicolaus Copernicus [and Stephen Hawking]
Running Press December 2004
ISBN-13: 9780762420216
ISBN-10: 0762420219 

  New to our On the Shoulders of Giants series, this
  groundbreaking work of astronomy proposed a heliocentric
  universe in which planets orbited the sun-daring to
  challenge the Ptolemaic ideal of the earth as the center of
  the universe. This essay by Copernicus (1473-1543),
  revolutionized the way we look at the earth's placement in
  the universe, and paved the way for many great scientists,

  including Galileo and Isaac Newton, whose theories stemmed
  from this model. Featuring a biography of Copernicus and an
  accessible, enlightening introduction, both written by the
  renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, On the Revolution of
  Heavenly Spheres provides a fascinating look at the theories
  which shaped our modern understanding of astronomy and

The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus
by Owen Gingerich
Walker Books, March 2004
ISBN-13: 9780802714152
ISBN-10: 0802714153

  "In one of the most unusual stories I have ever read,
  Gingerich recreates the history of thought in sixteenth and
  seventeenth century Europe from notes scribbled in the
  margins of several hundred copies of a great book. The
  account of his academic sleuthing is a treasure of
  information, intellectual history, and personal passion."
                                         ~Alan Lightman

Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the
Heavenly Spheres
by William T. Vollmann
Norton, February 2006
ISBN-13: 9780393059694
ISBN-10: 0393059693

  "This book itself is uncentering in the best possible way.
  Vollmann is one of the deepest, most fully ensouled writers
                                   ~David Foster Wallace