Galileo Galilei (Italian pronunciation: 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism.
Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to 17th-Century astronomer Galileo Galilei, whose scientific theories once drew the wrath of the Catholic Church.
In 1992, Pope John Paul said the church's denunciation of Galileo's work had been a tragic error. He said an understanding of the laws of nature could stimulate appreciation of God's work.
Galileo was never married. However, he did have a brief relationship with Marina Gamba, a woman he met on one of his many trips to Venice. Marina lived in Galileo's house in Padua where she bore him three children. His two daughters, Virginia and Livia, were both put in convents where they became, respectively, Sister Maria Celeste and Sister Arcangela
On the morning of June 22, 1633, Galileo, dressed in the white shirt of penitence, entered the large hall of the Inquisition building. He knelt and listened to his sentence: "Whereas you, Galileo, the son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine....." The reading continued for seventeen paragraphs:
Galileo, who lived from 1564 to 1642, was condemned by the Church for teaching that the Earth revolves around the Sun and in 1633 was tried and convicted of heresy by the Inquisition. He spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest.
His observations supported the Copernican view of the universe, not the geocentric view espoused by the church. Copernicus argued that Earth was not necessarily at the center of the universe.
It is known that Galileo died blind and the researchers are keen to open Galileo’s tomb to retrieve DNA and diagnose his optical affliction in order to create conditions that resemble looking through Galileo’s very own eyes.
Being Professor of Mathematics at Pisa was not well paid, so Galileo lobbied for a more lucrative post. In 1592, Galileo was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University of Padua (the University of the Republic of Venice) at a salary of three times that he had received at Pisa.
Galilei was born in Pisa in 1564, the son of Vincenzo Galilei, well known for his studies of music, and Giulia Ammannati. He studied at Pisa, where he later held the chair in mathematics from 1589 - 1592. He was then appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1610.
Using his own technical skills as a mathematician and as a craftsman, Galileo began to make a series of telescopes whose optical performance was much better than that of the Dutch instrument. His first telescope was made from available lenses and gave a magnification of about four times. To improve on this Galileo learned how to grind and polish his own lenses, and by August 1609 he had an instrument with a magnification of around eight or nine.
In 1609, he demonstrated a simple contraption to the Venetian Senate that set in motion a revolution in scientific thought. His device was a simple telescope — two glass lenses at the ends of a leather tube that magnified objects nine times — that would forever change man's understanding of the universe.
Galileo is most well known for his fight against the Church in favor of the Copernican view of Earth's place in the universe. How Galileo came to accept such a radical view as the truth most likely came from his studies in physics. Galileo reexamined the laws of motion and helped to kickstart modern physics as we know it today.
It’s hard to imagine a more famous astronomer than Galileo Galilei. He’s widely recognized as the very first person to point a telescope at the skies and then study what he saw. Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and much more.