Astronomers all set to recreate Galileos world-changing observations

January 11th, 2009 - 2:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 11 (ANI): To mark the 400th anniversary of Galileos discoveries, astronomers are recreating the kind of telescope and conditions that led to Galileos world-changing observations.

The astronomers are from the Arcetri Observatory, who along with curators from the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, both in Florence, Italy, have recreated the 17th conditions.

Astronomers will be using the recreated apparatus to catalogue all the objects recorded in Galileos Sidereus Nuncius (or, in English, Starry Messenger), the treatise that Galileo published in 1610 which included many of his early observations.

The team has already observed the Moon and Saturn and are now recording images of Jupiters moons and the phases of Venus, both of which provided crucial evidence to confirm the heliocentric hypothesis and prove that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe.

To recreate the apparatus, the team undertook a painstaking investigation of the nature of the lens of a telescope given to Galileos patron, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo II, in 1610.

That work involved measuring the shape and refractive index of the lens, and using X-ray fluorescence to determine the condition of the glass.

The group now plans to put the images seen by the telescope online.

The project, however, is more ambitious than just recreating one of Galileos telescopes.

The ultimate aim is to catch what Galileo himself might have seen. It is known that Galileo died blind and the researchers are keen to open Galileos tomb to retrieve DNA and diagnose his optical affliction in order to create conditions that resemble looking through his very own eyes.

At present, though, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Florence, where the tomb lies, is refusing the researchers access to Galileos remains. (ANI)

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