Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > History of Science, Mathematics, Technology > 163. Galileo Galilei

163.  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).  Sidereus nuncius. Venice: 1610. RBML, Smith Collection

This thin pamphlet entitled "The Starry Messenger" contains the first publications of modern observational astronomy, and some of the most important discoveries to be found in scientific literature. Galileo was the first astronomer to make full use of the telescope, learning of its invention in the summer of 1609. He constructed his own, eventually perfecting it to a magnification of 30 diameters, and began a series of astronomical observations. He observed the craters of the moon, saw the vast number of stars in the constellations and Milky Way, and discovered four new "planets," the satellites of Jupiter. He also declared himself to be a Copernican, and while none of his work proved that Copernicus's theory of the universe was right, it proved beyond doubt that the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic world-view was wrong.

Gift of David Eugene Smith, 1931

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