Pioneers of Science

Wherever Galileo turned his telescope new stars appeared. The Milky Way, which had so puzzled the ancients, was found to be composed of stars. Stars that appeared single to the eye were some of them found to be double; and at intervals were found hazy nebulous wisps, some of which seemed to be star clusters, while others seemed only a fleecy cloud.

Now we come to his most sensational discovery. Examining Jupiter minutely on January 7th, 1610, he noticed three tittle stars near it. . . Jupiter had moons like the earth.

News of the discovery soon spread and excited the greatest interest and astonishment. Many, of course, refused to believe it. Some there were who, having been shown them, refused to believe their eyes, and asserted that, although the telescope acted well enough for terrestrial objects, it was altogether false and illusory when applied to the heavens. Others took the safer ground of refusing to look through the glass. One of those who would not look at the satellites happened to die soon afterwards.

“I hope,” says Galileo, “that he saw them on his way to heaven.”

Pioneers of Science: Oliver Lodge (Macmillan, 1928).

Leave a Reply