Jan 21, 2009 | 5
The International Year of Astronomy (IYA), now under way, marks the 400th anniversary of the year that famed Italian astronomer Galileo began observing and documenting the heavens with increasingly powerful telescopes.
But in a paper in the current Astronomy & Geophysics, University of Oxford historian Allan Chapman argues that a less renowned astronomical pioneer deserves recognition as well. Thomas Harriot, an English mathematician, apparently turned a telescope to the sky even before Galileo did, producing a moon sketch that Chapman says is "the oldest known drawing of a telescopic body, made nearly four months before Galileo's first drawing."
Jan 13, 2009 | 1
For astronomy buffs, the arrival of 2009 brings more than just resolutions to eat better or live more frugally. The fledgling year has been designated the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union.
The IYA, intended to raise the public profile of astronomy, recognizes the 400th anniversary of the year Galileo, the Italian astronomer, began studying the heavens with telescopes of his own making. His observations of 1609 and 1610 showed the moon to be pockmarked rather than smoothly surfaced and unveiled four of Jupiter's moons, among other discoveries.
Now, as reported in the current issue of Physics World, Italian scientists have re-created one of Galileo's scopes in the hope of seeing the universe just as he saw it. (A macabre note to that end: the researchers are apparently seeking to disinter the legendary astronomer to study "the physiology of Galileo's eye.")
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