Do you know why Galileo was imprisoned for life? Read to find out

Do you know why Galileo was imprisonment for life? Read to find out

Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Galileo Galilei was born 455 years ago on February 15.

Galileo was interested in mathematics from an early age. He heard about the invention of the spyglass, a device which made distant objects appear closer and used his mathematics knowledge and technical skills to improve upon the spyglass and build a telescope. With his telescope, Galileo made some major discoveries about Jupiter’s moons, the surface of Earth’s Moon and planets’ revolution patterns.

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Galileo’s groundbreaking discoveries-

  • He found that the Moon’s surface is bumpy and rocky, contrary to the popular belief of the time that the moon was smooth.

  • In January 1610, he discovered the four most massive moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Today, they are referred to as the Galilean moons. He laid out all of his findings in his book Siderus Nuncius (The Sidereal Messenger).

  • Galileo’s observations strengthened his belief in Copernicus’ theory that Earth and all other planets revolve around the Sun. This was surprising to most people as people in Galileo’s time believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the Sun and planets revolved around it.


How did Galileo’s groundbreaking discoveries lead him into trouble-

Galileo was a respected man by 1610, but his discovery claiming Sun as the central point of the solar system began to cause him trouble with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church, which was very powerful and influential in Galileo’s day, strongly supported the theory of a geocentric (Earth-centered) universe. After Galileo began publishing papers about his astronomy discoveries and his belief in a heliocentric (Sun-centered) Universe, he was called to Rome to answer charges brought against him by the Inquisition (the legal body of the Catholic Church). Early in 1616, Galileo was accused of being a heretic, a person who opposed Church teachings.

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Galileo was cleared of charges of heresy but was told that he should no longer publicly state his belief that Earth moved around the Sun. Galileo continued his study of astronomy and became more and more convinced that all planets revolved around the Sun.

In 1632, he published a book that stated, among other things, that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus was correct. Galileo was once again called before the Inquisition and this time was found guilty of heresy. Heresy was a crime for which people were sometimes sentenced to death. Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1633.

Because of his age and poor health, he was allowed to serve his imprisonment under house arrest. Galileo died on January 8, 1642.


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