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Galilei As Astronomer (and Astrologer)
From Dr Z (aka Anthony Peña, JD)
Fickle Finger of Fate
(1564-1642) - an astronomer, physicist, and (yes) astrologer - initially
established his expertise in the study of terrestrial dynamics (i.e.
the development of pendulums). Galileo's beginning experiments with
the pendulum, and its movement, later spurred on the very important
mid 17th century development of the pendulum clock timepiece by
Galileo had chosen to stay within his primary field of scientific
endeavor, he would have likely gotten lost among a larger field
of inventors of his time and age. Fortunately for us, he didn't...
The Telescope That Ended Up Changing It All
It was much by "chance" that Galileo ended up fathering
a brand new branch of astronomy, laying the building blocks of modern
astronomy, and changing his own life and destiny forever.
has often been credited with inventing the telescope. However, this
is not exactly correct. In 1609 Galileo happened to hear of a Dutch
spectacle-maker, Hans Lipperhey, who had combined a pair of lenses
in order to magnify distant objects. Galileo then took the idea
and ran with it. He then created his own telescope for purposes
of gazing at the heavens and stars. This fortuitous event was to
irretrievably change the course of Galileo's life and destiny forever.
A Dip Into Hot Water
The following year, in 1610, Galileo published a small book called
Message from the Stars. In his book he reported having
seen mountains on the Moon, four small bodies (moons) orbiting Jupiter,
and that the Milky Way was actually made up of tiny stars.
to Nicolas Campion (“Introduction: Galileo's Life and Work”
Culture and Cosmos Vol 7 No 1) Galileo named the new
moons of Jupiter the “Medicean stars” in tribute to
the influential Medici family. According to Campion, Galileo was
rewarded later that year when Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke
of Tuscany, "appointed him court mathematician and philosopher
– that is, astrologer.”
was Galileo's discovery of Jupiter's four moons (now known as Galileo's
moons: Callisto, Europa, Io, and Ganymede) that was to slowly begin
his eventual dip into "hot water" with the powerful Roman
in 1613, Galileo discovered via his telescope that the planet Venus
showed phases like those of the Moon. Therefore, Venus orbited the
Sun, rather than orbiting the Earth.
Church steadfastly held to the "geocentric view" of the
universe and that the Earth was the stationary center of the universe.
Thus, any and all, objects in the heavens must encircle the Earth.
truth, astronomer (and astrologer) Nicolaus Copernicus (February
19, 1473 – May 24, 1543 Old Style) had been the first to
propose a heliocentric cosmology that removed the Earth from being
the center of the universe. Copernicus' heliocentric view of the
universe was published in his book On the Revolutions of the
Celestial Spheres, in the year of his death, 1543.
Galileo Denounced in 1615
However, what Galileo had directly observed in the heavens by means
of his famous (or better yet, infamous) telescope rocked the foundations
of Aristotle's, Ptolemy's, and the Roman Catholic Church's official
geocentric view of the universe.
was first denounced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1615. Fortunately,
he was personally popular with the most powerful Church officials
of his day. (It always helps to have friends in high places.) After
wisely choosing to denounce his beliefs in a Copernican heliocentric
universe, and promising that he would never again teach it, Galileo
was left alone by the Church for many years.
Just Couldn't Help Himself
However... almost twenty years later, in 1632, with the publication
of yet another book entitled Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief
World Systems : Ptolemaic and Copernican, Galileo forced the
reluctant Church to once again take action.
1633 Galileo went before the Church one final time. At his papal
trial, Church officials refused to even look through Galileo's telescope.
They knew full well that the Devil was capable of making anything
illusory and deceptive appear in Galileo's telescope.
one more time, Church officials offered Galileo an option for the
avoidance of being burned at the stake for church heresy. Once again
denouncing his beliefs in a Copernican heliocentric universe, Galileo
chose being imprisoned in his own home (and later in homes of his
friends) for the remainder of his life. Galileo died January the
Truth Stranger Than Fiction?
On March 12, 1737, Galileo's remains were transferred from the
chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian to the church of Santa Croce,
where a more fitting burial place had been prepared. During
this transfer, a devotee cut off Galileo's middle finger of
his right hand. Today, Galileo's finger can be found on display
in the Florence Institute and Museum of the History of Science.
In 1979 Pope John Paul II expressed a desire that the Pontifical
Academy of Sciences conduct an in-depth study of the church's
case against Galileo. A commission of scholars convened, and
they presented their report to the Pope on October 31, 1992.
The Roman Catholic Church then finally removed the verdict of
heresy against Galileo.
February 16, 1564 (Old Style)
4:09 pm LMT
(There has been more than a little confusion over whether Galileo
was born on the 15th or 16th Old Style, but the 16th appears to
be correct. Hey! Even Wikipedia that gives the 15th can't always
be right. For more on this see Nick Kollerstrom's excellent article
Ascendant, Taurus Midheaven, Pisces Sun, and Taurus Moon
on the Web
Astrology article by Nick Kollerstrom
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