>In Venice on a holiday in 1609, Galileo heard rumors that a Dutch
>spectacle-maker had invented a device that made distant objects
>seem near at hand. A patent had been requested, but not yet granted,
>and the methods were being kept secret, since it was obviously of
>tremendous military value for Holland.
>Such an instrument would also be valuable to Venice, and Galileo
>determined to attempt to construct his own spyglass. After a frantic
>24 hours (according to Galileo) of experimentation, Galileo, working
>only on instinct and bits of rumors, never having actually *seen* the
>Dutch spyglass, had a 3-power telescope. After some refinement,
>he brought (August 1609, 21th) a 10-power telescope to Venice
>(San Marco bell-tower) and demonstrated it to a highly impressed
>Senate (they could see a distant church, at Padua). Galileo's salary
>was promptly raised, and he was honored with proclamations.
Yes, but when did he make his first astronomical observations with it? It
seems to have been a date late in 1609. The important observations of
Jupiter were in January 1610 and, yes, he published his conclusions in March
1610. Amara pointed out to me offlist that the first observations of Jupiter
were 7 January 1610. This is a very important date because these
observations were critical in demolishing the body of theory and argument
supporting the Ptolemaic model.
So I'm now inclining towards 7 January as "Galileo Day" or "Science Day".
I have no doubt that, whatever *we* think or do to celebrate the 400th
anniversary of all this in a few years' time, there will be huge
celebrations - major scientific and philosophical conferences, etc. Though
Galileo certainly had precursors, these events around the beginning of 1610
really crystallised the beginnings of the modern approach to rational
inquiry that we call "science".
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