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The birth of the telescope
Galileo's followers

Portait of Galileo Galilei

The first person to realise the importance of the telescope was Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). In 1609 he got hold of a Dutch instrument, examined it and understood its basic principles. At first he reproduced the instrument, then, by putting together weak convex objective lenses with stronger and stronger eye lenses, he considerably increased its magnification. Galileo managed to build telescopes of eight, twenty, and may be even thirty times magnification.
In contrast with his contemporaries, Galileo did not limit himself to observing objects on earth. Towards the end of 1609 he pointed the telescope to the heavens to observe the moon and the stars. The outcome was so surprising that at the beginning of 1610 in Venice he published the Sidereus Nuncius, which describes his discovery of four new planets in orbit around Jupiter, which he baptised 'Medicean' in honour of the Florentine family. Subsequent discoveries - sunspots, the phases of Venus, Saturn's "triple-bodied" appearance, allowed Galileo to contribute to reviving the debate on the Copernican system.

Related objects
Inv. 2427
V.1 Galileo's telescope
[attr.] Galileo Galilei
Wood, paper, copper
Length 1360 mm
Inv. 2428
V.2 Galileo's telescope
c. 1609-1610
Galileo Galilei
Wood, leather
Length 980 mm
Inv. 2429
IV.1 Galileo's objective lens
Lens: early 17th century / Frame: 1677
Lens: glass, gilt brass / Frame: ivory, ebony
Lens diameter 30 mm / Frame 410x300mm

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