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Was Heliocentrism something that exploded with Copernicus seemingly out of nowhere, or were there predecessors, and what were those predecessors?

I read somewhere that their might of been versions before Copernicus?

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    $\begingroup$ You could have read this, couldn't you? $\endgroup$ – José Carlos Santos Nov 1 '17 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JoséCarlosSantos. Maybe (s)he wants to hear from people who have read the sources rather than wikipedia's pastiche of secondary literature. $\endgroup$ – fdb Nov 15 '17 at 23:36
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There were ancient predecessors, among Hellenistic Greeks, and possibly even earlier, but their works did not survive. Best known author is Aristarchus of Somos. His work on heliocentric system is only known from a brief reference by Archimedes in his surviving book Psammite (Sand reckoner). Wikipedia's article "heliocentrism" gives a list of other ancient Greek authors about whom we know the references saying or hinting that they developed some heliocentric theory. But none of these works survived. Copernicus mentions these ancient authors, but he could not read them, because their work was already lost at that time.

Remark. Interestingly, Newton also mentions obliquely some "ancients" in connection with the inverse square law. And there is even speculation on whether Newton possibly had some ancient texts which did not survive to our days. Ref.: L. Russo, Forgotten revolution. This whole book discusses what Hellenistic scientists probably knew.

EDIT. Wikipedia (article Al-Biruni) mentions that he discussed heliocentric system and apparently not only he alone, because he compares the views of different scholars on the subject, and concludes that it is plausible, but unclear how to prove. If this is indeed so (I have not read Biruni) than his point of view is even more reasonable than that of Galileo, because at the time of Galileo there was also no conclusive proof. (Biruni probably read Archimedes).

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    $\begingroup$ al-Biruni did not discuss the possibility of a heliocentric system. He did discuss Aryabhatta's thesis that the earth rotates on its axis and that this causes the apparent diurnal movement of the sphere. But the earth is still firmly in the centre of the cosmos. $\endgroup$ – fdb Nov 15 '17 at 19:56

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