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Galileo And Stars Essay, Research Paper

I feel that the motivation of Galileo?s pursuits in Astronomy and stargazing

was driven by his desire to be financially successful. Galileo was an extremely

ambitious and clearly independent individual whose methods of generating

scientific data epitomizes a survival of the fittest like struggle between all

of the prominent scientists of his time. During Galileo’s life there was no gray

area of wealth like the middle class of today, and therefore you were either

rich or poor. In Science and Patronage published by Westfall, the word

friend?s connotation back then was not one of caring for another person and

mutual support but rather defined in a financial type way of using one?s

connections to better one?s self. There was patronage inside of patronage;

therefore Galileo did not always see what he claimed to have seen, his

associates might have though. Since patronage was the way of the world at this

time as Galileo knew it made no sense for someone to swim against the current,

for they would simply become tired and unsuccessful. Because of Galileo’s

position as a patron to the prince, many of his disciples were patrons to

Galileo himself thus providing him data and insightful knowledge. Galileo in

turn allowed the use of his name as a referral to help his disciples out.

Surprisingly Galileo had only worked as a patron for those, which gave him

enough money or got persuaded into his over exaggerated descriptions of what the

moon really looked like. Galileo did not go into depth with many of the things

he saw, instead he attempted to describe everything he saw vaguely in order to

make sure he got credit for seeing it first. I feel that it is important to

document your discoveries as Galileo had not only to get credit for seeing it

first but to create a larger body of information that can be collaborated on

amongst all of the people. It appears that as he wrote Sidereus Nuncius that he

wasn?t even quite sure of all his findings and mostly improvised through his

work. I am doubtful that the princes he served were even able to see what

Galileo claimed in Sidereus Nuncius at least in our day and time it seems

difficult to get a clear image of the heavens because of light pollution and

possibly air pollution such as smog and other industrial chemicals. Although

Galileo?s descriptions of the moon were sometimes very accurate I did not see

exactly what he did, which could be a result of the moon?s surface changing

through time. For instance, the circular orb located near the center of the moon

at half moon was not visible to me during my observations. Of the more important

facts in Galileo?s discourse, I feel that his deduction that the moon is not

perfectly spherical and smooth as the Pythagoreans had believed, rather

mountainous with many prominence and depressions very much like the textured

landscape of earth. Galileo supports these ideas in a logical manner and

illustrates them in his observations when the moon is in its different phases.

He claims that the dark regions of the moon are shadows cast by the sun. Another

detail about the moon that was made more visible to me by the telescope is the

circular outline around that moon, even in the dark region, that separates the

body of the moon from the ether, which is a term Galileo uses for the rest of

the outer space. During this time there was also much debate about the source of

the moon?s illumination. ?Some have said that it is the intrinsic and

natural brightness of the moon herself; others that it is imparted to it by

Venus, or by all the stars; and yet others have said that it is imparted by the

sun who penetrates the Moon?s vast mass with his rays?. A good point that

supports the moon reflects light from the sun is the fact that during an eclipse

the moon does not retain its brilliant illumination. Galileo relates this to the

way earth has twilight in the morning and evening when the solar rays falling

upon the earth illuminate depending upon our proximity. I feel that Galileo

appears to be too strong-minded when expressing his ideas as he rejects the idea

of the moon being illuminated by light imparted by Venus. Galileo was the

pioneer of the idea that light is reflected by all of the heavenly bodies. He

proposed that the moon is reflection light to earth, which originates from the

sun and we (people on earth) are reflecting that same light towards the moon.

?In an equal and grateful exchange the Earth pays back the moon with light

equal to that which she receives from the Moon almost all the time in the

deepest darkness of the night.? (Galileo, p.XX) That would be to say that

people on the moon also view the earth as illuminated. I feel that that idea is

an important idea which holds true today, that light travels in a straight line

from the moon to the earth and vice versa. I have witnessed an effect, which

Galileo noted pertaining to the magnification of stars. In fact when I aimed my

telescope at the stars I did not notice a great deal of magnification if any as

compared to the enlargement of something that does not emit as much light such

as my stereo in my room. When I observed first, the stereo with the naked eye I

was not able to read the lettering associated with different buttons. Next with

the spyglass I was able to distinctly read even the smallest of lettering on the

interface of the stereo. All objects observed by me were insightfully enlarged

for my viewing except that is the nebulous bodies which us humans call stars.

Galileo asserted that this was because of the visual effect that the stars

dancing rays make it look larger when observing with the naked eye, and with the

spyglass which he proposed acted almost like a decoder and unmasking the volume

enhancing shield of light shone by the stars. Myself also observed the lack of a

definite shape of the stars, which was observed by Galileo. He is accurate when

he describes the stars light emissions as pulsating and the heavenly bodies or

planets as covered with a definite blanket of light. As I gazed around the sky

without the spyglass in hand the sphere of fixed stars appeared to be fairly

simple; that is until I magnified Orion?s belt which I saw too many stars to

count. Galileo proclaimed that he saw eighty and depicted an illustration of all

of them I feel that it is more difficult to find the constellations when probing

the sky with the spyglass as compared to using the naked eye to find the

constellation and then magnifying the stars of importance. The spyglass

definitely made society during Galileo?s time aware of stars that they were

unconscious to. I wonder why Galileo did not mention the Big Dipper that is

located in Ursa Major. It was a test for warriors to decipher between the two

stars on the handle that almost appear as one, I imagine that it would be

reassuring to the warriors that failed to see that there really is a second

star. At first I did not realize that there was a second star in the Big Dipper

but after seeing it I was able to recognize the faint glowing star. When I

observed the seven sisters I was not able to see a seventh star as Galileo

asserted. I?m sure that as Galileo observed the clusters of stars in the sky

that he came to the realization that to come to a truth in the number of stars

is virtually impossible. The next topic that Galileo created a lot of hype about

in his proposal was the discovery of four planets. In hopes of putting astronomy

in a more visible place in the public eye, Galileo challenged all astronomers to

determine the periods of these new planets. This would definitely not be

possible by the use of a conventional low powered telescope; therefore Galileo

had an advantage for surviving in the patronage world. Since Galileo made his

own telescopes and swiftly distributed them to all prominent and potential

charitable individuals his name was automatically connected to the study of the

universe. Another reason for his domination, which is not really an act of

fairness, is the quality of the telescopes he sold and the quality of the ones

that were gifts to royal individuals. The fact that some individuals did not

have the power to observe the marvels that Galileo had only hurt his cause of

trying to reform the system of the universe. It?s logical to say that the

spyglasses he sold were not of superior quality in which to make a serious

breakthrough in determining the periods of the Medician Stars. Yet he still made

money off selling these spyglasses and monopolized the industry in which all

individuals were contributing to his financial and influential growth. He knew

that it was only a matter of time after all of the speculation and skepticism

that he would prevail, and make a profit in the process. I even states in the

footnotes of Albert Van Helden?s that in the case of observing the

satellites? s of Jupiter, it was necessary to have a specialized celestial

telescope that magnifies fifteen times or more. I cannot say that I have seen

the Medician stars, although I did observe Jupiter. His observations of the

satellites of Jupiter seem to be consistent in that they form a straight line

and are seen at varying times in different formations. Jupiter was an exemplary

model that demonstrates how the moons revolve around the planets much like the

moon and earth. This observation may have upset many of the people that believed

in the Copernican system at this time, because now two planets were known to

have moons. When reading Sidereus Nuncius I did find that Galileo?s book was

persuasive because of the documentation of his research. At first I completely

disagreed about the things he saw with his telescope, but then I realized that

it requires an adequate amount of time to make good observations as he had.

There are other factors that led me to be skeptical; mostly the weather and the

light that obscured my view led me to believe that it was difficult to see

anything. The conditions and environment for viewing the sky were definitely

much better during his time than ours. There was no electricity in Galileo?s

time therefore he did not have to deal with what we call today Light pollution,

I?m sure that smog and air pollution have an effect on visibility and

influence the amount of quality viewing time available to amateur astronomers

today. Galileo finishes his work declaring that the lack of time prevents him

from completing everything, which to me is an indication that he was pressured

to get his work done in a short amount of time in fear that someone else would

make the discoveries before him. Reading through VanHelden?s conclusion I

found that the scientific world was very competitive at this time and many

scientists were very jealous of Galileo?s success. The case with Martin Horky

of Bohemia, who made false implications about Galileo?s spyglass and then made

a wax impression of it to try and reproduce one better than Galileo?s,

demonstrates this clearly. Kepler?s statement in his reply to Galileo in

Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo can either be the revealing of Galileo?s hidden

agenda to gain publicity on his misrepresented findings or what he was truly

pursuing the entire time, which was the truth. In retrospect, Galileo was simply

trying to earn a living doing something that he loved, which was the observation

of sciences. He did what he had to do. Had he been more modest about his

findings I feel that his ideas and observations would not have had such a

violent reaction with society and his fellow scientists, some of which were

overcome with jealousy and hatred. It is important to remember that people

believe what they want to believe and you should never try to aggressively

impose an idea on someone or some group of people. From a scientific basis I can

clearly say that I agree with Galileo?s work and with his methods of

patronage, although I may not like his personality.


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