August 25, 2009

400th Anniversary Of Galileo’s Telescope

Four hundred years ago on this day, Italian astronomer and philosopher Galilei Galileo unveiled a device that would become a timeless symbol of scientific discovery "“ the telescope.

Throughout his lifetime, Galileo would improve upon his first eight-powered telescope model, allowing him to make unprecedented discoveries.

After noting that the moon's surface was not glossy and smooth, as well as showing that Venus had a range of moon-like phases, Galileo was seen as an outsider by the Catholic church.

Galileo supported Copernicanism, a theory named for Nicolaus Copernicus, who is credited with making the first discoveries seen as the birth of modern astronomy. Copernicanism stated that the Sun was at the center of our universe. Galileo also became the first man to observe sunspots.

Galileo has been credited with being the father of modern science. However, he was not the first to develop the telescope. One year prior to his creation, a Dutchman named Hans Lipperhey filed a patent on a telescope. And in the summer of 1609 Thomas Harriot observed the moon using the device.

On this day, Google's homepage features cartoon image of his first telescope in celebration of the major development.

Living from February 1564 to January 1642, Galileo spent the last decade of his life under house arrest because of his monumental discoveries and theories. He was tried by the Inquisition and forced to recant his theories.