Galileo And The Stars
Evaluation of Sidereus Nucius
I feel that the motivation of Galileo’s pursuits in Astronomy and stargazing was driven by his desire to be financially successful. Galileo was an extremely ambitious and clearly independent individual whose methods of generating scientific data epitomizes a survival of the fittest like struggle between all of the prominent scientists of his time.
During Galileo's life there was no gray area of wealth like the middle class of today, and therefore you were either rich or poor. In Science and Patronage published by Westfall, the word friend’s connotation back then was not one of caring for another person and mutual support but rather defined in a financial type way of using one’s connections to better one’s self. There was patronage inside of patronage; therefore Galileo did not always see what he claimed to have seen, his associates might have though. Since patronage was the way of the world at this time as Galileo knew it made no sense for someone to swim against the current, for they would simply become tired and unsuccessful. Because of Galileo's position as a patron to the prince, many of his disciples were patrons to Galileo himself thus providing him data and insightful knowledge. Galileo in turn allowed the use of his name as a referral to help his disciples out.
Surprisingly Galileo had only worked as a patron for those, which gave him enough money or got persuaded into his over exaggerated descriptions of what the moon really looked like. Galileo did not go into depth with many of the things he saw, instead he attempted to describe everything he saw vaguely in order to make sure he got credit for seeing it first. I feel that it is important to document your discoveries as Galileo had not only to get credit for seeing it first but to create a larger body of information that can be collaborated on amongst all of the people. It appears that as he wrote Sidereus Nuncius that he wasn’t even quite sure of all his findings and mostly improvised through his work. I am doubtful that the princes he served were even able to see what Galileo claimed in Sidereus Nuncius at least in our day and time it seems difficult to get a clear image of the heavens because of light pollution and possibly air pollution such as smog and other industrial chemicals.
Although Galileo’s descriptions of the moon were sometimes very accurate I did not see exactly what he did, which could be a result of the moon’s surface changing through time. For instance, the circular orb located near the center of the moon at half moon was not visible to me during my observations. Of the more important facts in Galileo’s discourse, I feel that his deduction that the moon is not perfectly spherical and smooth as the Pythagoreans had believed, rather mountainous with many prominence and depressions very much like the textured landscape of earth. Galileo supports these ideas in a logical manner and illustrates them in his observations when the moon is in its different phases. He claims that the dark regions of the moon are shadows cast by the sun. Another detail about the moon that was made more visible to me by the telescope is the circular outline around that moon, even in the dark region, that separates the body of the moon from the ether, which is a term Galileo uses for the rest of the outer space. During this time there was also much debate about the source of the moon’s illumination. “Some have said that it is the intrinsic and natural brightness of the moon herself; others that it is imparted to it by Venus, or by all the stars; and yet others have said that it is imparted by the sun who penetrates the Moon’s vast mass with his rays”. A good point that supports the moon reflects light from the sun is the fact that during an eclipse the moon does not retain its brilliant illumination. Galileo relates this to the way earth has twilight in the morning and evening when the solar rays falling upon the earth illuminate depending upon our proximity.