Science

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Associated Press
An etching of astronomer Galileo Galilei.

Galileo’s Telescope Arrives in United States

March 30, 2009 12:40 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
The United States joins the world in celebrating the International Year of Astronomy by displaying one of the telescopes used by Galileo, in the country on loan from its home in Florence.

Seeing Like Galileo

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Galileo built dozens of telescopes in his lifetime but only two survive, according to The New York Times. And until recently, neither of them had ever left Florence.

Giorgio Strano, curator at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, has brought one of the telescopes to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia while his museum undergoes renovations.

What Galileo saw with this telescope is uncertain, yet his legacy as “one of history’s great troublemakers” remains, The New York Times writes. His observations of the universe challenged popular views and “his tangle with the church became the template for the war between science and religion that persists to this day.”
To celebrate the achievements of Galileo and other astronomers, 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy. Galileo’s telescope will be on display at the Franklin Institute until September as part of the year’s events.

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Key Player: The telescope

When Galileo used a telescope centuries ago to help prove that the Earth is not the center of the universe, he sparked a tremendous controversy. Since his time, telescopes have advanced considerably, giving scientists an ever deepening look into space. Today, some of the most powerful telescopes in the world are the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona, the Hubble Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope.

Related Topic: The Kepler mission

Earlier this month, the Kepler satellite was launched into space to search for evidence of extrasolar Earth-like planets capable of sustaining life. The $600 million device will be looking particularly for planets in a “habitable zone” around a star, where water could be present, according to the Discover Magazine blog 80beats.

Reference: Galileo’s telescope; astronomy resources

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