Tuesday, August 25, 2009

400 Years of Modern Astronomy

Happy 400th birthday, "modern" astronomy!

Galileo’s device was a simple telescope — two glass lenses at the ends of a leather tube that magnified objects nine times — and it would forever change our understanding of the universe. Established theories, centuries old, would fall; it would embarrass and anger the Roman Catholic Church; and it would mark the birth of modern astronomy.

But on Aug. 25, 1609, the practical Galileo focused on the telescope’s military benefits: He told the Venetian senators that it would be invaluable in war, since one could see ships sailing into Venice’s harbor a full two hours before they became visible to the naked eye. The Senate, duly impressed, doubled his salary. (The tradition perseveres: Scientists routinely tout military and other applied uses for their research in hopes of securing funding.)

.. and we will try not confuse you with "astrology"! :)



Christine said...

Galileo was great. His finger is on display in a Swiss museum. He discovered four of Jupiter's moons. Io and Europa are interesting moons, by the way. I want to read up on them soon.

ZapperZ said...

Eeewwww! You mean they cut off one of his fingers and put it on display?

I hope it wasn't his MIDDLE finger! :)