Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer

Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer

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Credit: CHRIS HELLIER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian astronomer and physicist. Galileo was the first to successfully use a telescope to observe the heavens, discovering new stars, mountains on the Moon, and the phases of Venus. His discoveries supported the Copernican theory that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the centre of the solar system. This brought Galileo into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church and, in 1632, he was found guilty of heresy and was held under house arrest for the rest of his life. Engraving (c1670) by Nicolas Larmessin.

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