Finally, I finished reading a book called Galileo’s Telescope. It took a month, but I did it. Whenever it takes me that long to read something it is because it is a difficult read. Three author’s were required to tell this short story of how Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons became known to the world. The time frame was 1590 through 1620. That alone gives a clue about how hard it must have been to research the events that unfolded.
A Dutchman who made eyeglasses for a living invented the telescope. The novelty of the device spread quickly across Europe and ultimately landed in Galileo’s lap. The early telescopes were crude devices with poorly made lens but had a 3:1 magnification. People were astounded by being able to see things far away come close. Galileo was a mathematician and immediately recognized the value of studying the heavens with a telescope. He took it upon himself to improve the device. He didn’t believe anyone else but he could do the job. He learned how to grind lens, and sent to Venice for the finest glass available. His math skills enabled him to calculate the lens curvature needed to yield a 30:1 magnification.
He first examined the moon. He learned the surface had mountains, valleys, and desert. He made the first pencil sketches of the moon’s surface. Then he focused on Jupiter and realized that four moons spiraled the planet. He published his findings in a book titled Sidereus nuncios.
The story told focuses on how the world rejected Galileo as the inventor of the telescope which is correct. He never claimed he invented the device. There is a short discussion on how he used the scope, and the rest on how he spread the news.
During that era, the Catholic Church taught that the universe revolved around the earth, and they excommunicated scientist Copernicus for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun. Many people of Galileo’s time warned him to present his findings as a mathematical phenomenon, and not as a Philosophical one for fear of being rebuked by the Church. Jesuits were the renowned philosophers of the time, and they still are today. They set up the Inquisition to keep people from deviating from Holy Doctrine. The current Pope Francis came to mind throughout this reading. He is a Jesuit and has the same stubborn stance on Global Warming as the Jesuits of the sixteenth century had about Earth being the center of the universe.
Anyway, this book told the story in two hundred and forty-six pages. I would have condensed it into ten (The words in this post are enough for me). The story contains too many difficult Italian names, dates, and places. We won’t see a movie on this one for sure. As hard as it was to read, I enjoyed the story.