Three basic conditions had to exist in order for the advancement of astronomy toward, and then beyond, the heliocentric theory. First, there had to be better astronomical tools, both physical and mathematical, and more accurate observations using these tools over a long period of time. Second, there had to be improved methods of mathematics for the interpretation of this collected data. Third, there had to be progress in the understanding of physics, and particularly motion. These conditions were evolving slowly during the sixteenth century, and as interest rose in astronomy at the opening of the seventeenth century, scientists concentrated much of their effort on the creation of these conditions.

Copernicus' teachings had very little immediate influence on contemporary thought. For nearly a century after the publication of De Revolutionibus, as it is often referred to, scholarly acknowledgement of Copernicus' work remained limited. Religion occupied the position of utmost importance during the period, and, having settled into the comfortable truths of the ancient thinkers and absorbed them as religious doctrine, by its nature the Church was hostile to revolutionary scientific advances. Bruno's theories on the universe heightened the Church's defensiveness, and though Copernicus' works were not banned, their effects were carefully monitored by the Church.

Both Tycho Brahe and Copernicus attempted to retain some of the major conventions of the Aristotelian system. Most prominently, both held to the theory that planetary orbits were perfect circles. Tycho's attempt to model the universe according to the ideal geometric form of the circle was one of the last attempts to retain this major stipulation of the Ptolemaic theory of the universe. Tycho's pupil, Johannes Kepler would continue this search for an ideal geometric scheme for the planetary system. However, following Tycho's era, astronomers began following a new paradigm: they gradually stopped attempting to fit the observed universe into an ideal structure and rather tried to observe the direct evidence of the nature of the heavens and glean from that the actual structure of the universe. Most were prepared to accept that this reality would not necessarily comply with an ideal form.

Bruno's theories, though not gleaned from any direct observation, were quickly recognized as antagonistic to the Church. Bruno's infinite universe differed greatly from the "created universe" that was the accepted truth of the Church. In an infinite universe, where were heaven and hell to reside? The alleged Creator of the "created universe" had to be separate from the creation in order to match up with Christian doctrine. Additionally, the Church maintained that the universe was centered on Earth and mankind, for it was mankind that had been granted the Divine Spirit. In this rejection of the teachings of the Church, Bruno's revolution was far greater than that of Copernicus. Many consider the publication of his three tracts in 1584 to be the true point of transition from medieval to modern science. It is important to note that his theories were not based on experimentation or observation. Rather, Bruno's contribution to science was a philosophy that opened the scientific mind to the possibility of new and strikingly different explanations of reality.

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