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Observing with Galileo's Telescope

4.3 - Observing with Interactive Replicas of Galileo's Telescope

Using the micrometer Using the helioscope Model of Saturn, 1660 (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Ms. Gal. 289)

Some of the problems encountered by Galileo in his astronomical research, and the observation techniques he devised, can be more clearly understood by utilising interactive instruments in closed spaces, such as those of a museum or an exhibition. Each celestial body, in fact, raised specific problems for Galileo, as regards recording his observations and, even more important, deducing from them objective data to be used in formulating astronomical theories

Moreover, the idea of replicating celestial observations in the terrestrial sphere is not a new one, but has historic roots in experiments conducted in the first half of the 17 th century to solve specific astronomical problems or to evaluate the quality of telescopes objectively. A particular example of this is the experiment conducted in Florence by some members of the Accademia del Cimento to determine whether Saturn was composed of three bodies (as initially stated by Galileo) or was surrounded by a solid ring (as maintained instead by Huygens). In 1660 the members of the academy prepared a model of the planet with a ring that, when observed at a distance with low-quality telescopes, appeared to consist of three bodies.

 ŠIMSS 2008 P.zza dei Giudici 1 50122 Florence P.I. 01346820481