Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer born on 15 February 1564. He was born in Pisa, Italy. He was a brilliant scientist of the 17th century. His contributions to science and astronomy are immense. His discoveries are used as fundamentals in physics and astronomy.
In ancient Greek, Aristotle was a famous scientist. His theories taught that heavier things fall faster than lighter things. Galileo, however, believed that everything fell at the same rate. He conducted a series of experiments by rolling down objects of different masses. He also designed the first pendulum clock.
His love for the planets and the stars led him to make many improvements on the existing telescopes (called spyglasses at that time). He increased the magnification from three to almost nine. It wasn’t long before Galileo turned his telescope to watch the solar system!! He was the first to see craters on the moon, discover four moons of Jupiter, and track the phases of Venus. He was amused by the lobes on Saturn that kept vanishing when they were edge-on. We now know them a the “rings of Saturn“.
Almost 400 years back people believed that all the planets revolve around the Earth. Church punished anybody who tried to say otherwise. In 1616, Galileo was called to Rome and warned not to teach or write about this controversial theory. After 16 years, he published work on the Copernican system ( that the planets revolved around the sun). He was punished for preaching against the church, and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Galileo’s observations and scientific theories make the fundamentals of physics and astronomy today. Therefore, he has been rightly called the “father of modern observational astronomy”