Galileo Galilei Astronomy : Everything You Need To Know

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Near the end of the 16th century, a man named Galileo was born in Italy. He first became a math teacher even though he had no degree in the subject, and here he began his path to greatness. A baby step towards Galileo Galilei astronomy was when he demonstrated to students that different weight objects fell at the same speed, counter to Aristotle’s teachings. He wasn’t invited back to teach, and so moved to a position at the University of Padua. His entry into astronomy would come to fruition there.

In Padua, Galileo invented the compass and began studying physics. He developed formula for the path projectiles took, and for falling bodies. These became very important in astronomy, later. Galileo claimed he had no desire to explore astronomy except a passing support for the theories of Copernicus. Copernicus’ theory was of a heliocentric solar system in which the planets circle the sun. Aristotle and Ptolemy held that the solar system was centered around the Earth, and even the sun rotated around our home. Of course today we know that Ptolemy and Aristotle were wrong.

When the spyglass was invented in Holland, Galileo learned of it and made his own telescope which he turned to the sky. He used it to see features on the moon such as mountains and craters. He also saw, for the first time, the individual stars that made up the Milky Way. He went on to discover Jupiter’s four largest moons. After publishing this information, he was named the royal mathematician in the court at Florence. No longer having to earn a living teaching, he could spend more time exploring. Nine months later he showed that Saturn had phases. It was yet more proof that his trust in Copernicus was well founded.

Galileo had a long standing feud with Aristotle’s beliefs and teachings. Many scientists agreed with Galileo, and so published his findings. But because Aristotle’s work elevated man to key position in all the universe, the church supported his work. A Florence priest denounced Galileo Galilei astronomy in 1614. Galileo’s response was a letter stating that science was above the bible. A cardinal demanded Galileo stop talking about a moving Earth. Galileo complied, continuing his study of falling objects, comets, and methods to determine longitude at sea based on the phases of Jupiter’s moons. Galileo signed a document proclaiming his agreement with the Earth centered solar system, one in which the Earth doesn’t move. But he had one more thing to say on the subject. “I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree; “And yet … it moves.”

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The torment that so many young women know, bound hand and foot by love and motherhood, without having forgotten their former dreams. ~Simone de Beauvoir

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