Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Galileo's Original Telescope at the Franklin Institute

We visited the Franklin Institute on Sunday so that I could see an original Galileo telescope that he made and used to make his discoveries of the moons of Jupiter, mountains on the moon, and even seeing some hint of the rings of Saturn. This is the International Year of Astronomy in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo being the first to turn a telescope to the skies and record his observations.

The telescope he used looks very plain, I suppose because it was early effort and a working instrument. Galileo wrote a note of the device's magnification on one end. You can see the writing in the next photo.

Galileo did make nicer telescopes as gifts for his patrons, such as the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but they only had a replica of one at the Franklin Institute. It is famous however for appearing with Derick Pitts, the chief astronomer of the Franklin Institute when he was on the Colbert Report.

Galileo made many more observations after 1609, one collection of famous ones from March 1st, 1613 to May 8th was published “Istoria e Dimostrazioni intorno alle Macchie Solari” (”The Sunspot Letters to Marc Welser”).

Massimo Mogi Vicentini took the manuscript and the observations of Jupiter's moons and turned it into a nice animation.

(video link found via Strange Paths, videos at Mogi-Vice, pictures of the telescope were taken by me without a flash, to not damage the exhibits, but against the rules, I did get caught by the guards and had to stop)


Howard said...

Was this is in Philadelphia? I wish I had known it was there when I was visiting 2 weekends ago.

Richard said...

Yes it is in Philadelphia, through September 17th, so you may still have time to catch it if you are here in the Summer.

The telescope is cool, but the rest of the exhibit has a lot of replicas and facsimiles instead of real artifacts and spelling errors. I haven't had a chance to talk about that part. I thought I would start with the good.