Exhibit Guide Navigation

Prose de’ Signori Accademici Gelati (Bologna, 1671)

Essays of the Members of the Academy of Gelati

Geminiano Montanari, "Sopra La Sparizione D’Alcvne Stelle et altre nouita Celesti Discorso Astronomico," pp. 369-392.

This is the scarce first edition of writings by a leading learned society in Bologna, the Accademia dei Gelati. The volume includes striking woodcuts by the astronomer Geminiano Montanari of white stars against a black background. Montanari compares his observations of the Pleiades with those of Galileo from the Starry Messenger (1610).

This article also reports, for the first time in book form, Montanari’s work on the bright variable star Algol (”the demon star”) in the constellation Perseus. Algol is understood today as an eclipsing binary star, where two stars revolve around a common center of gravity and appear to Earth to dim as they alternately eclipse one another. In antiquity the star was linked to the Gorgon’s head, the eye of Medusa, whose gaze would turn the viewer into stone. Scientifically, in Galileo’s world, a variable star would seem to contradict the Aristotelian maxim of the immutability of the heavens.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Stars

Section Number: 4

Object Number: 23

Subject Area(s): Mathematics, Art, Astronomy

Time Period: 17th Century

Region(s): Europe, Italy

Click any Image for a larger version

Exhibit Gallery OERs

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices is the only one of the modern 88 official constellations named after a historical figure. It represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267 221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Learn more about this in this learning leaflet.