GARY BROWN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY BROWN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Galileo Galilei. Caricature of the Italian Renaissance scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), 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. Using it, he discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter (now called the Galilean moons in his honour) and observed the full set of phases of Venus. This last observation confirmed that the geocentric Ptolemaic model of the solar system had to be wrong, and backed up the new heliocentric model of Copernicus. He also noticed that pendulum swings take the same time regardless of the amplitude, and he determined the law of acceleration.
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