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Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610)

Starry Messenger

When Galileo heard news of telescopes invented in the Netherlands he worked out the underlying geometry and crafted one of his own design. In this work, Galileo published the first observations of the heavens made with the telescope. His sensational discoveries included mountains on the Moon, vast numbers of previously undetected stars and four satellites of Jupiter. 

From the top of San Marco’s campanile, Galileo demonstrated to Venetian senators how his telescope could identify ships while they were still far out from shore. This offered a strategic advantage for a city vulnerable to attacks by sea. Then, rather than charging an exorbitant fee, he donated a telescope to the Senate. In gratitude, they more than doubled his salary. However, as a mathematician-engineer, low in the disciplinary hierarchy at the university, Galileo still earned much less than Cesare Cremonini, a leading Aristotelian physicist at Padua. Yet with funding improved, he turned the telescope toward the heavens and proceeded to shake the world with sensational astronomical discoveries.

(On display in Bizzell Memorial Library, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Spring 2016.).

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

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Exhibit Gallery OERs

Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

Art and Astronomy Walking Tour

“What was it like when art and astronomy were intertwined?”

Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Lorenzo Sirigatti, Galileo... what joins them together?  Why is Galileo's Starry Messenger (1610) displayed alongside Giorgio Vasari's Lives of Eminent Painters and Sculptors

Galileo’s scientific discoveries occurred in the context of a specific artistic culture which possessed sophisticated mathematical techniques for drawing with linear perspective and handling light and shadow.

Do you know someone who received a telescope for Christmas? There's no better way to begin looking through a telescope than to ponder the way Galileo's professional training as an artist prepared him to make his astronomical discoveries.

In the Galileo’s World exhibition, four galleries took their point of departure from Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius, 1610):  
• Galileo and Perspective Drawing  
• Galileo and the Telescope   
• The Moon and the Telescope   
• The Sky at Night

These distinct but overlapping galleries were on physical display in different places and combinations during the course of the Galileo’s World exhibition, most notably at the National Weather Center and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.  Various books from these galleries are part of the current Rotating Display and the "The Sky Tonight reprise" gallery, including Galileo’s Starry Messenger itself.

Use this handout to aid you in you as you walk through the 2017 Rotating Display and The Sky at Night reprise gallery.