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400 Years of Astronomical Discovery

Mercury Autumn 2009 Table of Contents


Galileo

Portrait of Galileo Galilei (in 1636) by Justus Sustermans.

Source: Wikipedia.

by Lynne Hillenbrand

We are about three-quarters of the way through the IYA, the International Year of Astronomy. It is thus timely to think about the successes of the year and, as this ASP annual meeting title indicates, forge a path to a future of continued public engagement in astronomy.

In this context of public understanding and appreciation of science, it is important to note the world view into which Galileo Galilei was born (1564). The accepted cosmology was that there were two very separate realms: that of the Earth, consisting of soil/earth, air, fire, and water and on which all was transient, and that of the heavens or Heaven, consisting of a perfect regularity -- remote from Earth's imperfections, and eternal.

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