Galileo and the Telescope

Exhibit GuideGalileo’s World at a Glance
Gallery at the Exhibit Website
Locations: Various. Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall (Fall 2015, Summer 2016); also incorporated in “An Artful Observation of the Cosmos,” Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Spring 2016).

What was it like to be an astronomer in an era when art and mathematics were intertwined?

In the Starry Messenger (1610), Galileo published the first observations of the heavens made with the telescope. His report caused a sensation, as he claimed to discover mountains on the Moon, vast numbers of previously undetected stars and four satellites of Jupiter.

The planet Jupiter moves through the heavens without leaving its satellites behind. The Earth and Moon both have mountains, seas, atmospheres, and both shine by reflected light. All of these discoveries might suggest that the Earth, also, is a wandering planet.

Section 1: Galileo and the Telescope

  1. Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610), ”Starry Messenger.”
  2. Galileo Telescope replicas (Museo Galileo, OU School of Drama).
  3. Giorgio Vasari, Le opere (Florence, 1878-85), 8 vols. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
  4. Photograph of Moon engravings from Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610).
  5. Photograph of star fields from Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610).
  6. Photograph of Jupiter’s satellites from Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610).
  7. Photograph of title page, inscribed by author, from Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610).
  8. Questar 3.5 inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope (Astronomics – new for Reprise Exhibit).
Further reading:
  • Stillman Drake, Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001; originally printed 1983 in the Past Masters series); discussion guide.
  • Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius, trans. Albert Van Helden (University of Chicago, 1989).
  • Maurice Finocchiaro, The Essential Galileo (Hackett, 2008)
Curators: Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple. Links are to the Exhibit Guide, also available from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.

Works listed here are on display in Bizzell Memorial Library (Fall 2015, Summer-Spring 2016) and also at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Spring 2016). We thank Mark White, Director of the Fred Jones Museum, Francesca Giani (curator), Melissa Smith (educator) and all the Museum staff for incorporating many books described in “Galileo and the Telescope,” “The Moon and the Telescope,” “Galileo and Perspective Drawing,” and “The Sky at Night,” into their Spring 2016 exhibition, “An Artful Observation of the Cosmos.” Each of these galleries takes its point of departure from Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius (1610), which is listed as the first item for each of these galleries. Museum curator Francesca Giani took these themes to heart and illustrated them with art from the Museum. Her captions for that exhibit, relating the books to the art, are based in varying degrees upon the original captions provided beforehand in the Exhibit Guide and the Exhibit website. The melding of art and science by the Fred Jones Museum in their exhibit is a powerful example of the ability of Galileo’s World to throw light upon the world of OU today.

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