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Jack Oughton - Galileo, The Telescope and The Church

Jack Oughton - Galileo, The Telescope and The Church

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Published by Jack Oughton
A short essay written about everyone's favourite super talented scientific populariser, uber self publicist and plagurist of new advances; Galileo Galilei!

Galileo's observational evidence was vitally important in bringing down the millenia old geocentric paradigm (which was developing more holes than maturing swiss cheese by the 17th century). Interestingly he did not 'invent' the telescope, but was crafty enough to see the benefits of the device and claim credit for its development. He used it to observe previously unseen astronomical phenomena, such as the Galilean moons of Jupiter . His talent for self publicity, stubborness and observational skills where important to bringing the truth to light.

The essay touches upon the backlash brought about by the Catholic Church, who at the current time, were not at all willing to accept ideas that strayed from religious dogma, despite how convincingly real these ideas may be. Galileo was put on trial and lived out his fiinal days in confinement at his residence. He repented his discovery in a trial held by the church, and mercifully was not killed or tortured by the Spanish Inquisition, who had no foibles with breaking limbs and burning people to get

It is somewhat reassuring to see that the Catholic Church has now advanced beyond this barbarism, and funnily enough the Church officially pardoned Galileo in 1992.
A short essay written about everyone's favourite super talented scientific populariser, uber self publicist and plagurist of new advances; Galileo Galilei!

Galileo's observational evidence was vitally important in bringing down the millenia old geocentric paradigm (which was developing more holes than maturing swiss cheese by the 17th century). Interestingly he did not 'invent' the telescope, but was crafty enough to see the benefits of the device and claim credit for its development. He used it to observe previously unseen astronomical phenomena, such as the Galilean moons of Jupiter . His talent for self publicity, stubborness and observational skills where important to bringing the truth to light.

The essay touches upon the backlash brought about by the Catholic Church, who at the current time, were not at all willing to accept ideas that strayed from religious dogma, despite how convincingly real these ideas may be. Galileo was put on trial and lived out his fiinal days in confinement at his residence. He repented his discovery in a trial held by the church, and mercifully was not killed or tortured by the Spanish Inquisition, who had no foibles with breaking limbs and burning people to get

It is somewhat reassuring to see that the Catholic Church has now advanced beyond this barbarism, and funnily enough the Church officially pardoned Galileo in 1992.

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Published by: Jack Oughton on May 26, 2010
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Jack Oughton
Introduction
In 1604 the Western world witnessed evidence of the unspeakable, evidence of the changingnature of the cosmos. In the foot of Ophiuchus a new star had appeared, brighter even thanJupiter, and it was visible for a full18 months, before fading away. The old ways proclaimed thatthe heavens where immortal and unchanging, but here was direct evidence of naturecontradicting that. Today we know it as
Kepler’s Star,
we witness it as the remnants of asupernova,
 
but in those dark times it was an omen, and almost literally a metaphor of the deathof the
 Aristotelian
view of the Universe that Europe had been clinging to for millennia. One manwho watched that new star with interest would devote much of his life to the pursuit of scientifictruth. In 1605 he delivered 3 lectures at Padua University, in which he argued that parallaxmeasurements proved that the new star was beyond the moon in length, and that thereforechange did occur in the heavens. I argue that Galileo’s Galilei’s decades long struggle with theunchanging paradigm of the Ancients brought about the true spirit of the scientific revolution,which we hold true to today, which is not to believe or assume, but to always question; thetransition from faith to science.It is believed that Galileo had held at the minimum an interest in the Copernican hypothesis atleast as far back as the early 1590s. In 1595, he used ideas based on Copernican motions of the earth to devise a hypothesis to explain the motion of the tides. He would later expand uponthis in his seminal
Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems.
In 1597 he wrote to Kepler;another man who would reshape the scientific world in his own way. Galileo wrote; “
I have for many years been a partisan of the Copernican view... I have collected many proofs, but I do not  publish them, because I am deterred by the fate of our teacher Copernicus who…was ridiculed and condemned by countless people...” 
Galileo waited patiently for more than a decade for hisopportunity to further prove and test his beliefs, and in 1609 with the discovery of an instrumentthat allowed
"seeing faraway things as though nearby 
” he took it.
 A Tool To Smash A Paradigm
In the spring of 1609 after a single night devoted to consideration of the laws of refraction,Galileo had discovered how to create his own telescope, constructing a triple magnificationspyglass from lenses he purchased in spectacle makers' shops. Whilst others had done thesame thing; what set Galileo apart was his excellent experimental skill, born of years of scientificexperience, and working with different lenses, he realized that, high magnification required aweak convex lens and a strong concave lens. His problem was that opticians only made glassesin a narrow range of strengths, and three or so was the best magnification available with theseoff the shelf lenses. So, once again he applied his focus to learning another skill, and taughthimself the art of lens grinding. In applying his custom ground lenses, he discovered a way toimprove the instrument’s magnification, producing increasingly powerful telescopes over amatter of months. By August he had presented an eight-powered instrument to the VenetianSenate and by October he had constructed a telescope of twenty times magnification.By 1610 Galileo was realizing the wondrous possibilities of this new scientific tool he hadrefined, and using it to discover further evidence that demolished Aristotle’s now tenuousparadigm. As well as possessing the most powerful telescope in the world, he was the firstperson to do what now appears its most obvious use, and turn it to the stars. What he saw theresupported Copernicus’ hypotheses beyond the shadow of a doubt, and also made him adangerous threat to those who took the beliefs of the ancients, or the Bible to be dogma.
The Moon
In November 1609 Galileo pointed his improved telescope towards the moon for the first time.From November 30th until December 18th of that year, he examined and drew the face of themoon in great detail. He found that the Moon was not the perfect unperturbed sphere thatAristotle would have supported, a closer look at the surface revealed that,
“the spots all 
 
have adark part on the side toward the Sun while on the side opposite the Sun they are crowned withbrighter borders like shining ridges." 
(
Starry Messenger 
, p 41)
 
From these observations, Galileo deduced that he was observing the shadows cast by anuneven surface, consisting of valleys, plains and mountains much like the surface of the Earth.This conclusion was revelation, how could a heavenly body have an imperfect surface? Could itbe that the earth was also a heavenly body as well? Where was heaven and what was theextent of the spread of the earthly corruption? Although this was not evidence directlysupporting the Copernican heliocentric theory, it challenged the Aristotelian and set the themefor a number of more important discoveries that would support Copernicus.
Jupiter 
Two months later, on January the 7
th
Galileo made the discovery of three of Jupiter's four largestsatellites; Io, Europa, and Callisto. On the 10th Galileo observed that one of them haddisappeared, which he attributed to it moving behind Jupiter. 3 days later he discoveredGanymede, the last of what are now known as the Galilean moons. This discovery of satellitesorbiting Jupiter 
directly
supported the Copernican hypothesis, which stated that
“There is noone center of all the celestial circles or spheres”.
Firstly, it was contrary to the orderly geocentricmodel of the universe, in which all celestial bodies circled around the Earth. This argumentsuggested that given the moon orbited the Earth, if the Earth then orbited the Sun, the Moonwould be left behind. Moons orbiting around Jupiter implied that a planet could orbit another body without leaving behind any moons that were in turn orbiting it. Secondly it was thediscovery of new bodies in the universe that according to the old theories simply
shouldn’thave been there
, the crystalline sphere that Jupiter traversed across should have beenshattered by these new interfering bodies. Naturally, this was all a bit too much too soon, andmany prominent academics simply didn’t believe him, but his continued observations of themoons meant that by mid 1611, he was able to accurately predict where each moon would be,and all the unbelievers had to do was stare down the telescope (and many refused to)
1
In February Galileo also made some star maps, including the Pleiades. Although not of muchsignificance compared with what he was about to unearth, the discovery of more stars in theheavens than where previously known suggested an infinite universe, lending support to anancient Greek argument against Aristotle on the plurality of worlds, first proposed by thephilosopher Thales.However, verifying Galileo's discoveries was initially difficult for anyone without access toGalileo's uniquely powerful telescope, and in the spring of 1610 no one else had the capabilityto observe the satellites of Jupiter. It would be about six months before others had access toinstruments powerful enough to see Jupiter's moons, and by then Galileo was already workingon the next big thing…
Venus
In September of 1610, Galileo turned his telescope upon Venus. He noticed that it exhibited afull set of phases, similar to that of the Moon. Ptolemy’s geocentric hypothesis predicted thatonly crescent and new phases could be observed, Venus was supposed to remain between theSun and Earth during its orbit around the Earth. However, Copernicus’ heliocentric modelpredicted that all phases would be visible since the orbit of Venus around the Sun would causeits illuminated hemisphere to face the Earth when it was on the opposite side of the Sun and for it to face away from the Earth when it was in between the sun and earth. Galileo's observationsof the phases of Venus
proved
that it orbited the Sun, and this effectively falsified the Ptolemaicsystem beyond any shadow of doubt.In March of 1610 Galileo hurriedly published his brief treatise,
The Starry Messenger 
. Itexplained the new discoveries that he had made with his telescope: the shape of the moon’ssurface, satellites orbiting Jupiter, and the resolution of what nebulae into collections of stars toofaint to see individually. Most importantly, for the first time he publically declared that the
1 Galileo complains to Kepler in a letter dated 19
th
August 1610 of philosophers who “refuseto look”(Baumgardt, 1953)
 
planets moved around the sun. (Machamer, 1998). In 1613 Galileo began to tutor students onthe Copernican theory.
Sunspots
In April of 1612 the searching gaze of Galileo’s telescope focused upon the face of the sun. In1613 he published his
Letters on Sunspots
, in which began a great argument with the JesuitAstronomer Christoph Scheiner by disproving Scheiner’s hypothesis that sunspots whereactually planets revolving around the sun, as argued under the pseudonym Apelles in
ThreeLetters on Solar Spots
. Galileo pointed out that by moving together, and moving slowly,sunspots could not be planets. He also pointed out their irregular shapes how they formed anddisappeared at random. Lastly he mentioned the foreshortening of the spots as theyapproached the edge of the solar disk. Most importantly on pages 27 to 36 Galileo also beganto formulate a geometrical argument for Copernicanism based on the motion of sunspots, butnever finished it. However he did write
“I tell you that also, no less than the horned Venusagrees admirably with the great Copernican system. Favorable winds are now blowing on that system…
(Cropper, 2001). The implications of Galileo’s work here not only prevented any‘saving’ of the theory, but started one of many feuds that would be characteristic of his later fame in life, and where the first insult to the Jesuit order he would make.
 And yet it moves...
As with countless other times in history, new and radically different ideas, no matter howconvincing, cannot simply be accepted without some level of resistance. Galileo was a proudman, driven to defend his Copernican position against anyone who would argue with him, or touncompromisingly criticize anyone whom he disagreed with. At the beginning of the paradigmshift, there was an abundance of people for him to criticize, argue and disagree with, and aworldview to change.In tandem with his growing notoriety, scattered resistance to Galileo began to come from allover Europe. In June of 1610, a young Lutheran student of Kepler’s, Martin Horky, published
 Avery short excursion against the Sidereal Messenger.
Interestingly it was more of a character assassination upon Galileo himself, rather than Copernicus, claiming Galileo had invented theJovian moons due to a “thirst for gold”, and other slanderous character attacks.(Reston, 2000)The next ineffective dig, this time upon Copernicanism, came from Francesco Sizzi, a Florentineastronomer. In
Dianoia Astronomica, Optica, Physica,
he argued partly from scripture and partlyfrom mathematics. In part of his illogical argument Sizzi claimed; ”
the satellites are invisible tothe naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would beuseless, and therefore do not exist” 
.These and other small criticisms where no match for the amount of prestige Galileo was nowenjoying and number of influential friends he had made in his public life.The first organized resistance came from a group, which Galileo contemptibly referred to as the"Pigeon League" named after Lodovico delle Colombe, an Aristotelian professor of philosophy.In 1611 Lodovico published a tract that really muddied the waters in the connection betweenChristianity and the Aristotelians,
 Against the Motion of the Earth
. Although it did not implicateGalileo directly it argued against Copernicus from scripture. Initially the League was comprisedof Aristotelian scholars whom he had offended in public debates with his sarcastic and brutalstyle of argument, such as Cesare Cremonini, who refused to look down his telescope! Later itexpanded to allow anyone with a grudge against Galileo in it. It is believed that this league isresponsible for creating the real trouble for Galileo, its members where those who brought hisargument on the passage Joshua 10: 22-24 to the attention of the Catholic Church, a far moreformidable enemy.The Catholic Church had a lot invested in the belief system it enforced and was built upon, thescripture was seen as simply correct and anything that threatened to disprove it was dangerous.Copernicus’ belief in a moving earth contradicted the scripture, for example in Psalm 104:5 theBible states;
"…the LORD set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." 
If Galileocould prove Copernicus right, he would also disprove the infallibility of the Bible. Seeing as the

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