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The Discoveries of Galileo – Part 5: The Milky Way, Orion, and Asterisms

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#1 E-Ray

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 05:38 AM

This is the final article on the Discoveries of Galileo from 1609 to 1612. His discoveries of Jupiter, sunspots, the Moon, and Venus were covered in parts one through four of this series. This article will cover Galileo’s observations of the Milky Way, the constellation Orion and star clusters or what we term today as asterisms.

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#2 Special Ed

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 02:20 PM

Ed,

 

This is a fine conclusion to your series on Galileo.  Every installment is an enjoyable and informative read--and I think that those who have only a bare bones knowledge of Galileo will better understand why he is one of the giants of early visual astronomy.

 

In regard to why Galileo was silent about the Great Nebula in Orion's sword (what we now call M42):  in the footnotes of the Albert Van Helden translation of Sidereus Nuncius, he speculates that Galileo thought the nebulosity would resolve into stars with a more powerful telescope. 

 

As you pointed out, he wrote about the "nebulous" objects of antiquity, e.g. the Praesepe and the Nebula of Orion (what we know as Collinder 69) actually being collections of stars when viewed through his telescope, so it makes sense that he would take a wait and see stance with regard to the nebula in Orion's sword.

 

Congratulations on this educational and highly readable series!


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#3 reglogge

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Posted 05 May 2021 - 02:00 AM

Thank you for this highly informative and well written series on the discoveries of Galileo. A pleasure to read. May I suggest to anyone who is interested in the history of astronomy the classic book "The Sleepwalkers" by Arthur Koestler? He describes the intellectual journey and scientific discoveries of among others Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo in very much detail and offers some startling insights on their thinking


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#4 E-Ray

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Posted 05 May 2021 - 04:55 PM

Ed,

 

This is a fine conclusion to your series on Galileo.  Every installment is an enjoyable and informative read--and I think that those who have only a bare bones knowledge of Galileo will better understand why he is one of the giants of early visual astronomy.

 

In regard to why Galileo was silent about the Great Nebula in Orion's sword (what we now call M42):  in the footnotes of the Albert Van Helden translation of Sidereus Nuncius, he speculates that Galileo thought the nebulosity would resolve into stars with a more powerful telescope. 

 

As you pointed out, he wrote about the "nebulous" objects of antiquity, e.g. the Praesepe and the Nebula of Orion (what we know as Collinder 69) actually being collections of stars when viewed through his telescope, so it makes sense that he would take a wait and see stance with regard to the nebula in Orion's sword.

 

Congratulations on this educational and highly readable series!

Hi Special Ed,

Thanks for the feedback and info about the Orion Nebula. I learn more and more each time I publish this series. I will check out Albert Van Helden's footnote. It's interesting that Galileo sketched the "nebulosity" of Meissa but not more detail on the Orion. But it may be that Galileo or his assistant were on to the next set of observations.



#5 E-Ray

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Posted 05 May 2021 - 04:58 PM

Thank you for this highly informative and well written series on the discoveries of Galileo. A pleasure to read. May I suggest to anyone who is interested in the history of astronomy the classic book "The Sleepwalkers" by Arthur Koestler? He describes the intellectual journey and scientific discoveries of among others Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo in very much detail and offers some startling insights on their thinking

Thanks Reggloge! I just finished reading a book about Copernicus. A very interesting and odd padre indeed! He kept a mistress and created horoscopes for wealthy patrons. And he never took final orders to become a priest which is why I refer to him as padre.

Ed




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