Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer

Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian astronomer and scientist, holding a telescope. Galileo, although not the inventor of the telescope, refined its design and was the first to use it to study the night sky. his discoveries with it included the four largest moons of Jupiter (now called the Galilean moons in his honour), mountains on the Moon, and the full set of phases of Venus. His observations 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.

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