Monday 27 April, 2009

Galileo’s invention of the astronomical telescope and his astounding discoveries: moons, stars, and a new planet

Professor David Jamieson
School of Physics, University of Melbourne


With two small polished pieces of glass in his innovative new telescope, Galileo triggered a revolution in the way humanity sees its place in the cosmos.  This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first time Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens.  In the last few months of 1609 and the first months of 1610 he made an avalanche of astounding new discoveries that completely overturned the traditional views of the Earth’s place in the cosmos.  This lecture looks at Galileo’s technological breakthrough with the invention of his astronomical telescope and investigates the new discoveries and knowledge that it produced.
Some of these discoveries are well known like the discovery of the moons of Jupiter and the lunar landscape.  But there is a surprise drawn from the pages of Galileo’s logbooks of 1612 and 1613.  He notes the position of a “fixed star” that does not exist in any star chart because it is the planet Neptune which Galileo observed 234 years before its official discovery.  Did he know this “fixed star” was a planet? If so, this would be the first discovery of a new planet by humanity since deep antiquity.  His notes suggest he saw Neptune move and computer simulations show the precision of his observations.  This lecture will review the evidence.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Professor Jamieson will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions? Contact Lynelle (