Happy Anniversary, Galileo's Telescope!
Today is the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s telescope. Why did Galileo develop the telescope? Because he was an astrologer, of course. He cast horoscopes and attempted to rectify his own chart. His interest in studying the sky came from contemporary news of a Jupiter-Mars conjunction.* That interest led, eventually, to the telescope and a good view of Jupiter’s moons.
Humankind began looking into the sky thousands of years ago, on several continents. Those who did discovered that events in the sky paralleled human experience here on earth. They studied it and distinguished celestial phenomena for use in navigation and in understanding of human events. They were called “astrologers.” Galileo was one, Kepler was another, Brahe was one too. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment and the Copernican revolution (Copernicus? also an astrologer) that the terms “astrology” and “astronomy” started to diverge so wildly and gained the distinct meanings we know today.
Galileo’s telescope was not the first of its kind, but it was stronger and lent support to Copernicus’ theory that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of the solar system. It was heresy to suggest that humanity and our home were not the center of God’s creation, so it was several centuries before the heliocentric view we know today became accepted. Copernicus’ theory was read in his time, but not accepted; we have Galileo’s telescope to thank for our modern understanding of our solar system.
* see The Fated Sky by Benson Bobrick, page 174.