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Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610), photograph of title page, inscribed by author.

Starry Messengerm

A “nuncio” is an ambassador. Galileo identified himself as an ambassador from the stars, appointed to deliver a starry message to Cosimo II de Medici. The title page announces the four satellites of Jupiter, employing large type to name them the “Medicean stars.” Within months he was invited to Florence and established in Cosimo II de Medici’s court.

The OU copy is the only extant copy of Sidereus nuncius to contain Galileo’s handwriting.  It is inscribed by Galileo as a gift to a poet in the Medici court.

Galileo presented this copy to the poet Gabriello Chiabrera (1552-1638), who was known as the “Italian Pindar.” Galileo may have hoped Chiabrera would write verses for a future Italian translation of the Sidereus, but if so, the plan fell through.

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.