2009 will be the International Year of Astronomy, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's groundbreaking astronomical discoveries with the then new telescope.
It's in this context that the University Heidelberg is organising a series of public lectures, Galilei's first glimpse through the telescope and its consequences today. So, a few days ago I spent a very entertaining evening in the magnificent "Alte Aula" of the university (photo here), listening to a talk by historian of science William Shea of the Cattedra Galileiana di Storia della Scienza, Università degli Studi di Padova, on Galileo and the Discovery of a New World.
Shea explained the main astronomical discoveries of Galileo, and also told quite a few entertaining side notes. For example, Galileo had no real understanding of the detailed workings of his telescope. On the other hand, he was an accomplished artist, who composed his famous drawings of the moon from partial views of the moon disc, as his telescope didn't show the whole moon at once.
If you are interested in a compact and entertaining introductory lecture about Galileo the astronomer, you might want to check out Shea's talk (it's in English, contrary to all the German text on the web page).
TAGS: Galileo, telescope