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2009 has been named the International Year of Astronomy to celebrate 400 years of the telescope.
The telescope was invented in Holland in 1608. On July 26, 1609, the Englishman Thomas Harriot looked at the moon through a 6-power telescope and drew what he saw. It was the first map from a telescopic image.
Just a month later, Galileo presented a homemade 8-power telescope to the Venetian Senate. That fall he turned a 20-power telescope to the heavens.
The evening of Jan. 7, 1610, Galileo noticed three “stars” strung in a line through the planet Jupiter, but three days later one “star” had disappeared, as if it went behind Jupiter.
After a week of watching, a fourth “star” appeared. The stars stayed near Jupiter and changed their positions with respect to each other and to Jupiter.
The sightings made sense if the stars — which were actually moons — were revolving around Jupiter.
The idea had one problem. In 1610, the prevailing story said the things in the heavens revolve around our planet Earth, not weird spheres like Jupiter.
Trouble loomed. We know about its eventual twist-up with spiritual concerns.
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