The Science Museum accommodates an exhibition of some of the most important documents of the history of Astronomy

Dec 23, 2009

Entrance is free to the exhibition “Galileo and Astronomy”, which may be visited until 21st February 2010
The Science Museum accommodates an exhibition of some of the most important documents of the history of Astronomy A valuable series of manuscripts and books that have been a vital part of the history of astronomy can be viewed until 21st February 2010 at the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum. The exhibition “Galileo and Astronomy” consists of 40 exhibits such as the first edition of the Sidereus Nuncius in which Galileo announced his discoveries or the abjuration of this scientist.

The inauguration of the exhibition, which can be seen in the Arquerías of the Science Museum free of charge, was attended by the scientific director of the City of Arts and Sciences, Manuel Toharia, the director of the National Science and Technology Museum (Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, MUNCYT), Ramón Núñez, and the director of the Library of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, Marco Guardo. The latter, of which Galileo was a member, is the oldest scientific association in the world and has organised the exhibition.

It is the first time that this material has left Italy, and after it has passed through Madrid the most important world exhibition on the occasion of International Astronomy Year can be visited in Valencia. Its commemorative interest will continue into 2010, as the beginning of next year will mark the IV Centenary of Galileo’s first observations through a telescope. In January 1610 Jupiter’s satellites were discovered, and 12th March will be the IV Centenary of the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius.

The exhibition is divided into five chapters. The first of these is devoted to the creation of the Accademia dei Lincei, which was the first scientific association in history. It was created in 1603 on the initiative of Federico Cesi and three other youths, who were joined by Galileo as the sixth member in 1611. The second part concerns the invention of the telescope and early observations, in which copies of the first editions of the Sidereus Nuncius and Kepler’s Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo stand out.

The development of Galileo’s thought and the affirmation of the “new Galilean science” constitutes the third part of the exhibition, which includes not only copies of the first edition of Il Saggiatore, a work on sunspots, but also autobiographical material with preparatory notes from that first edition.

The fourth section includes exhibits from the period between the publication of Il Saggiatore (1623) and Galileo’s abjuration. The manuscript containing the text of the speech made by Galileo in the Dominican convent of Santa María Sopra Minerva in Roma on 22nd July 1633 is also featured in this part of the exhibition. Finally, the fifth chapter of “Galileo and Astronomy” includes the later works of the scientist, the Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno a due nuoue scienze (Leiden, 1638) and various posthumous editions of Galileo’s complete works.