550 Years of the Copernican Universe: our Place in the Cosmos


Order of the heavenly spheres by Copernicus.

Credit: Order of the heavenly spheres from Chapter 10 of Copernicus‘ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, composition: AIP/J. Fohlmeister
Nov. 7, 2023 //

In the spirit of Copernicus’s revolutionary idea and in honour of his 550th anniversary, a one-day Heraeus symposium will take place in Berlin on 10 November, focussing on our place in the universe, galaxy and solar system. The symposium is part of the Berlin Science Week 2023.

Copernicus changed astronomy, the world and humanity when he demoted Earth’s otherwise privileged position at the centre of the universe. With this simple empirically evidenced idea, Copernicus forever altered the human experience. With a wide variety of world-leading astronomers giving lectures on the state of the art in their respective fields, the symposium will celebrate Copernicus’s idea that our place in the universe, although not special anymore, is nevertheless unique. From exoplanets to the search for extra-terrestrial life, from dark matter physics to black holes across the cosmos, from how galaxies form to how they die, the symposium will honour a European who united the world in appreciation for our special place in the universe. Scientific organizers of the symposium are Professor Matthias Steinmetz, scientific chairman and spokesman for the Executive Board at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), and Dr. Noam Libeskind, head of the Cosmography and Large-Scale Structure group at AIP.

The event takes place at the Humboldt Carré Berlin, right next to Gendarmenmarkt, subsequent to the falling walls conference. It is funded by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, whose focus is on organising and financing event formats that serve scientific exchange. Participation is limited to 150 persons.


08:00 Registration

09:00 Matthias Steinmetz, Noam Libeskind: Welcome Words

09:30 Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell University: Finding other Earths – the 2nd Copernican revolution

10:15 Laura Kreidberg, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy: Copernicus Revisited: Is the Earth Special?

11:00 Coffee break

11:30 Amina Helmi, University of Groningen: Unraveling the history of our home galaxy, the Milky Way

12:15 Roelof de Jong, AIP: Our place amongst others: the quest for the siblings of the Sun and the Milky Way

13:00 Lunch break

14:15 Carlos Frenk, University of Durham: The emergence and future prospects of the standard model of cosmology

15:00 Laura Baudis, University of Zurich: All the dark we cannot see – direct searches for dark matter in the Milky Way

15:45 Michael Kramer, Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy: Unveiling the Universe: The impact of Radio Astronomy’s transformative discoveries

16:30 Coffee break

17:00 David Blaschke, University of Wroclaw: The Copernican Revolution as a change of frames

17:45 Eiichiro Komatsu, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics: Parity Violation in Cosmology: Does the Universe distinguish between left and right?

18:30 Reception

19:30 End of Symposium

The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aims at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and E-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.
Last update: 7. November 2023