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The planets as Galileo saw them

Four hundred years ago Galileo observed for the first time the planets using his telescope, changing drastically our view of the Solar System.

Galileo’s instruments were home made; some of them have survived till today. (c) Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze We do not know exactly through which telescope Galileo observed Jupiter and Saturn in 1610. It was probably similar to that in the picture, currently at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence: an objective with a diameter of 37mm, trimmed down to a 15mm aperture to reduce optical aberrations.

How did Galileo see the planets through his telescope? Let’s take advantage of computer image simulations to rediscover the amazement of the first planet observer of modern times!

We will roll back in time using Celestia to recover the planet positions in the sky Galileo observed, and reproduce, using MATLAB, the effect of atmosphere and telescope optics on the light coming from the planets.

Université Paris-Sud 11 Faculté des Sciences GEOPS CNRS
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