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Mapping the Moon Before Galileo

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-this-without-a-time-machine dept.

Moon 60

ClockEndGooner writes "The BBC has posted an interesting piece on a British contemporary of Galileo who observed the surface of the moon and drew up a more complete set of lunar maps before the much celebrated Florentine. The first lunar cartographer, Thomas Harriot, who also made an early visit to the Jamestown colony in Virginia, observed the moon with an early telescope and mapped his observations five months before Galileo. Noted British astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore, is quoted in the article: 'I'm sorry Harriot isn't better known over here... after all, we all know Galileo. But Harriot was first... and his map of the Moon is better than Galileo's.' Harriot's achievement may not have been as well known, since he deliberately kept a low profile as two of his friends were imprisoned in the Tower of London for political crimes."

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Huh? Why? (4, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26453205)

I don't think it's changed all that much.

And...? (4, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26453439)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it...

Galileo stuck his neck out for his views and incurred the wrath of the Church. Of course his achievement would be better known than that of someone who was keeping a low profile.

Re:And...? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26453953)

It seems to me that you're misreading ignorance into Moore's words. (You do know who he is, right?)

All he says is that he's sorry Harriot isn't better known over here. It's a bit of an english idiom for 'more widely known' but if Moore had meant 'better known than Gallileo', or even 'better known than Gallileo for this particular job' he'd have said it. I'd imagine he's quite aware of Gallileo's other achievements.

Mod parent up, he actually understands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26454139)

Seems to me that almost everybody here is misreading Moore's comments based on a simple misunderstanding of a British expression, just as the parent suggests. Moore wasn't trying to suggest that Harriot should be better-known than Galileo - just that more people should be aware of Harriot and his work than is currently the case. Oh, for some mod points.

Re:And...? (3, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454363)

No question that Moore is well aware of Galileo's other achievements. But I sort of regard this accomplishment of Harriot's in the same way I do the Norse exploration/colonization of North America. Yes, it was quite a feat, and yes (to acknowledge the point of TFA) it deserves to be known, but did it fundamentally change what came after? Not really. History focuses on those who affect other people and the course of later events.

Re:And...? (3, Interesting)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26456939)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it...

Galileo stuck his neck out for his views and incurred the wrath of the Church. Of course his achievement would be better known than that of someone who was keeping a low profile.

But Galileo's observations of the moon had nothing to do with his (much later) encounter with the inquisition. In fact, after Galileo published his telescopic observations of the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and various stars in 1610, he was feted by the Pope and the Jesuit College as a scientific hero. (The first friction between Galileo and the church occurred six years later, in 1616; but the real trouble -- when he was hauled before the inquisition -- didn't start until 1631.) The issue here is the old scientific game of "who did what first".

That said, this really isn't news; Harriot's 1609 unpublished maps have been known about for years.

Re:And...? (1)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463411)

Although Galileo didn't incur the wrath of the Church for making his moon-map, that was for the entirely different achievment of proving earth wasn't the center of the universe.

Re:And...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463749)

Well, strictly speaking, he *didn't* prove it, that was the whole difficulty. You have to appreciate the mindset of the time - the Bible was the revealed word of God and so parts of it were taken as literal truth. There were grounds for re-interpretation of the Bible, it had been done before, but it required solid evidence and Galileo couldn't provide that evidence (at least, to the satisfaction of the paticular ecclesiastical figures he was dealing with).
His biggest mistake was in his "A dialogue on the two chief world systems" (incidentally, the title was a masterstroke because this completely dismissed the Brahean world system that he didn't feel he could argue against so easily!) when he put the words that the current pope had said to him into the mouth of the character who throughout the rest of the book had said idiotic things. It's probably that Galileo meant no disrespect or offence with this, he just needed a mouthpiece for the words, but nevertheless it was a grave miscalculation and probably led to his subsequent house arrest because he lost the protection of the pope and so his enemies in the church and the academic world (this still being very bound up with the church at the time and it could be argued that Galileo's enemies were in academia who used their influence with the church to persecute him) could get at him.

Re:And...? (1)

danieltdp (1287734) | more than 5 years ago | (#26472053)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it...

...It still can kill a squirrel

Galileo, the moon-mapper (5, Insightful)

Schiphol (1168667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26453581)

Galileo discovered the law of inertia and formulated the equations of uniformly accelerated movement, helped improve the telescope and the microscope, described the orbits of Jupiter's satellites and, apparently, drew a map of the Moon.
On the other hand, Thomas Harriot drew a better, earlier map of the Moon.
In conclusion, and given that we know who Galileo is, it is a historical injustice that we don't know who Thomas Harriot is.

Somehow the conclusion does not seem to follow, does it.

Re:Galileo, the moon-mapper (2, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454277)

Harriot did much more than map the moon and I've always thought it was an injustice that he wasn't better known. Galileo was a giant among giants. He practically invented modern science and certainly helped break the grip of philosophers and priests. But Galileo's being a giant shouldn't take away from the excellence of some of his near contemporaries.

Re:Galileo, the moon-mapper (2, Informative)

kandela (835710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26465829)

I would argue that Gilbert [wikipedia.org] "practically invented modern science," since he was the earliest influential early practitioner of the scientific method we know of today (ref: The Fellowship - John Gribbin [amazon.co.uk] ). Not that Galileo doesn't deserve credit, he was one of the earliest practitioners of the method, popularised it a great deal and had many successes.

Re:Galileo, the moon-mapper (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454321)

No, the point the article makes is that in addition to everything else he did, Galileo also gets points for mapping the moon, while Harriot - who did it early and better - gets none. They figure it's an accomplishment worth noting. (The comment about Harriot being "known better" isn't in reference to Galileo, but in reference to his actual current status.)

Ever eaten a potato? (4, Informative)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26455621)

Then, unless you are an American Indian, you can probably thank Thomas Harriot.

Let's see, Galileo worked out some obscure mathematical equations, worked on optics, but didn't invent bifocals, and, apparently, drew a rough map of the Moon. Everyone has heard of him.

On the other hand, Thomas Harriot introduced a plant to Europeans that fed millions or people cheaply and has become the staple food for much of the planet's population. No one knows who he is.

In conclusion, we are to gather that Galileo's contributions were more important and history is just.

Re:Ever eaten a potato? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#26479247)

On the other hand, Thomas Harriot introduced a plant to Europeans that fed millions or people cheaply and has become the staple food for much of the planet's population.

The potato was introduced into Europe in 1536 - Harriot was born in 1560. You do the math. Even if Harriot had introduced the potato, which would be curious because his only visits to North America were a hemisphere away from potato cultivation areas, it still languished as human food until the work of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier [wikipedia.org] in the late 1700's.

Re:Galileo, the moon-mapper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459353)

To Galileo it was impetus and it was similar to that of 14th century Parisian scholars known as the Parisian Doctors.

He is rightly credited with proving it not formulating it. It had been published in one of the most popular physics textbooks (by Domingo DeSoto) before he was born.

His skill in manufacture dramatically improved the power of the telescope over the Dutch variants. There were others who claimed that they had matched him within a few years. Galilean type telescopes were not really used by astronomers much after his death because Kepler's (his contemporary) telescope design was considered better (its the one we use today).

I believe your other points are widely accepted.

Slow march of history (1)

pjt48108 (321212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26453639)

The renaissance took a while to reach England, so it's not a surprise that such endeavors weren't as highly valued and recognized.

The reason why (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26453685)

The reason why Galileo is more known is because he not only observed the moon and draw some maps, but because he:

* Discovered the phases of Venus

* Discovered the rings of Saturn

* Discovered sunspots

* Observed and described the Milky way

* Confirmed in details the heliocentric model

* Discovered the satellites of Jupiter, thus confirming the the Earth was nothing "especial" but only one planet like any other

* And MUCH more...

What makes Galileo a giant was not only the quality of his observations but the enormous quantity as well.

Re:The reason why (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26454033)

Not to mention the fact that he was attacked and imprisoned by the church for simply stating the TRUTH. He was not only a great scientist, he was also a great role model for every other scientist who has had to fight off the wackjob creationists and the anti-environmentalist moonbats.

There Fixed that for you (0, Flamebait)

Wizworm (782799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454247)

Not to mention the fact that he was attacked and imprisoned by the church for simply stating the TRUTH. He was not only a great scientist, he was also a great role model for every other scientist who has had to fight off the wackjob creationists and the environmentalist moonbats.

Re:There Fixed that for you (1)

M-RES (653754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26466163)

Not to mention the fact that he was attacked and imprisoned by the church for simply stating the TRUTH. He was not only a great scientist, he was also a great role model for every other scientist who has had to fight off the wackjob creationists and the anti-environment mentalist moonbats.

There, fixed that for YOU ;p

Re:The reason why (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454727)

Does his map provided the location for the moonbats? If so we should nuke their caves.

Re:The reason why (1)

M-RES (653754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26466221)

Yes it does. He shows the best vantage point on the moon to see the greatest collection of moonbats. Simply stand and look up towards Earth and you'll see them all. They're called Homo Sapiens - each and every one of them is a complete moonbat!

Please folks (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454875)

First of all, the universe does not revolve around the Sun any more than in revolves around the Earth. So, Galileo was not "simply stating the TRUTH" (as if there were such a thing). Secondly, his troubles came from asserting a state of things as TRUTH without enough scientific or religious proof. There were plenty of ways he could have stated his case without making an ass of himself, but he chose the pompous ass route. Bertolt Brecht's Galileo is not the historical one, any more than Washington Irving's Christopher Columbus is the historical one.

Destroy your convenient myths and face up to the inconvenient truths. All of them.

Re:Please folks (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26455325)

First of all, the universe does not revolve around the Sun any more than in revolves around the Earth. So, Galileo was not "simply stating the TRUTH"

Galileo said nothing about the universe; we still do not quite know what it is, let alone what it rotates around, and in what dimensions. Galileo supported the idea that Earth rotates around the Sun, and that is amazingly close to the truth.

Re:Please folks (1)

M-RES (653754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26466245)

Actually, the earth rotates whilst it REVOLVES around the sun ;D

Don't poke fun at the pope (1)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26457259)

To expand on your comment, it wasn't just Galileo's pro-Copernican views which got him in trouble [wolfram.com] :

Galileo lay down the chief elements of his mechanics in Dialog on the Two Chief Systems of the World (1632), which was supposed to be an objective debate between the Copernican and Ptolemaic system. Unfortunately, Galileo put the Pope's favorite argument in the mouth of one of the characters, then proceeded to ridicule it. Galileo suddenly lost favor with the church, and was forced to recant his Copernican views and put under house arrest.

I'm not defending the church, but unless you're fireproof it's probably never a good idea to ridicule an authority that can easily have you killed for some phoney-baloney religious reason.

Re:Don't poke fun at the pope (1)

M-RES (653754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26466283)

I'm not defending the church, but unless you're fireproof it's probably never a good idea to ridicule an authority that can easily have you killed for some phoney-baloney religious reason.

Really? So, then my public chants of "Wetsboro Baptist Church Armed Extremist Military Wing are a bunch of pussies!" isn't such a good idea is it? mwuhaha

Re:The reason why (3, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26455589)

Really, Galileo got in trouble with the Church not because they were "wackjob creationists" but rather because of a) violating certain (obsolete) teaching standards at his university - a small tragedy, but you probably would be skeptical if you were the dean and one of your physics profs started going on about the electric universe or cold fusion too - and more importantly b) he wrote a book which poked fun at important people who were wrong and called them stupid by proxy, thereby insulting the honor of important political figures (i.e. the Pope, who really should have been a step or two above typical 17th-century Italian politics but apparently wasn't).

I think there's more of a Science-and-Politics lesson here than a Science-and-Religion one. Of course, neither the anti-religious lobbies nor the Protestant lobby really figure they have much to gain by going into detail and making distinctions beyond calling "Galileo!" (galileo, figaro) whenever it's convenient. People might actually learn something about history if they did that, or even Society. We wouldn't want that to happen, would we now?

Re:The reason why (2, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26458341)

Galileo was finally brought in after he put some of the pope's statements into Simplicio's mouth (making the pope look foolish by proxy). Whether he meant to do that or not is the subject of speculation. However, that's not why Galileo was dragged in. He was dragged in because the Inquisition had it out for him. They had been keeping a file on him for quite a while and even during his trial, they violated their own rules and fabricated records to get him. This doesn't make Galileo's behavior smarter or more diplomatic (he never was a very compromising person, but that's part of what makes him so sexy), but I do not accept that he was really responsible for what happened either.

Re:The reason why (1)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474707)

I wouldn't have said Galileo deserved what happened to him through the inquisition, but in a certain sense he did back them into a corner and go out of his way to push the issue in an inflammatory matter. If Galileo had been able to prove the heliocentric model, it might have been different. But, as you probably know, he couldn't prove it (and, worse, came up with a transparently desperate fake-proof in his theory of the tides.) In the end, it's hard to see where else the church could have gone without losing face (and, since they were the church, they weren't about to do that ... something Galileo should have realised a long time before.)

I guess the thing that riles me about the entire episode is that Galileo shunned every scientific principle (the very ones he had done so much to promote) in arguing for a system he could not prove (and which, at the time, the scientific evidence (i.e. lack of an observable stellar paralax) opposed). It was not a conflict of science vs. faith, it was a conflict of faith vs. faith, and it saddens me that he's upheld as a hero for his behaviour. I can't help but agree with Koestler's thesis that Galileo had caused a schism between science and the church that was completely unnecessary.

Re:The reason why (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26476083)

See, that's what I'm disagreeing with. The Church did have a very definite choice. Galileo was trying to give them an out and help them save face before it become overwelmingly obvious that they were very loudly pushing an erroneous view.

And for the record, as I recall, his tides argument, while false, wasn't obviously so at that time. And there was good reason to believe that the heliocentric model was correct in the form of Kepler's fits to Tycho's data. (Galileo was in correspondence with Kepler, after all.) Additionally, Galileo had himself observed (and publish in Siderius Nucius) his observations of the Galilean moons (clearly orbiting Jupiter, not Earth as the Catholic dogma asserted) and Venus's phases (definitely proof that Venus orbited the Sun, if not direct proof that the Earth did so).

So I'm saying that Galileo wasn't basing his arguments on faith alone and that the Church was fighting on the wrong side even from available information of that time. (The lack of parallax observations, while well-known even tot he Greeks, was also recognized as potential evidence that the stars are simply very distant (even by the Greeks).)

As for being inflammatory, Galileo, though perhaps tactless, wasn't trying to rile anyone up. He was told to include the Pope's arguments for geocentricism in his Dialogues and he was genuinely surprised when it triggered a backlash as it did. (It can't have been that inflammatory, given that the book initially made it past the Church censors and, according to some sources I've seen, even the Pope himself.)

Re:The reason why (1)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26476755)

Hmmm ... I can't say I agree with you. For anyone with a modicum of common sense it would have been immediately obvious that the tides theory was incorrect. First off, there was the problem that the theory didn't actually predict the observed tides (it predicted exactly one tide per day, at exactly noon every day -- obviously something that anyone living by the sea could see was wrong). But more importantly than that, it was bad physics, and Galileo had just pioneered the modern study of moving bodies. If anyone else had proposed the theory of the tides, Galileo would have shot it down in a second (and would have been scathing about the intelligence of the proposer to boot). Of course, Galileo was desperately keen to prove the heliocentric model, and perhaps might have deluded himself in his desperation. But whether intentionally deliberate or unintentionally deluded, it was bad, bad science and certainly didn't prove his case.

Now, the funny thing about the theory of the tides is that Kepler had previously, and correctly, attributed them to the pull of the moon and the sun (he never quite worked out gravity, but he got very close). Galileo's response to this was to ridicule Kepler. And this brings me to your second point -- Kepler's elliptical orbits -- since Galileo completely ignored them when trying to argue for the heliocentric model. (And to say that Galileo was in correspondence with Kepler is a little laughable, since Galileo pretty much ignored Kepler his entire life. The only time he paid any attention to Kepler at all was when Kepler was the lone voice believing his newly published telescopic observations, and even then he quickly forgot Kepler.) If Galileo had argued that a heliocentric system with elliptical orbits was a conceptually simpler system than the wheels-upon-wheels of Ptolemy, then one might give him a bit of credit. But Galileo was arguing only the wheels-upon-wheels of Copernicus, which in any case had an analogous geocentric competitor in Tycho's model (where the planets orbit the sun, which in turn orbits the earth). Tycho's model was favoured by the Jesuits, but Galileo chose to ignore (once again, one has to wonder, unscrupulously) this model in his Dialogue. Bad science, once again.

The phases of Venus did not disprove the Tychonian model (Venus orbits the sun in this model, so has phases), and so we're back to the lack of a stellar parallax. And yes, this could mean (as Kepler himself had argued) that the stars were very, very far away. But the simplest explanation was simply that the earth didn't orbit the sun, and as a scientist Galileo should have been unbiased enough to admit it. Bad science once more ... are you beginning to see a theme here?

As for the final point about Galileo not being deliberately inflammatory, I have to say I find it difficult to accept that a man so skilled at destroying his enemies in public debate and in print could not grasp the implications of shoving the Pope's conciliatory explanation into the mouth of Simplicio, the village idiot. It was an incredibly stupid thing for anyone to do; for Galileo, who had been admonished many times by the church not to push the issue, it could only have been seen as deliberately inflammatory.

And, of course, it was personal. The Pope had started off admiring Galileo, and in return Galileo snubbed him. Not a smart thing to do, when you're dealing with the ruler of one of the most powerful bodies of the day!

Re:The reason why (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26476883)

How, exactly, is doing what the Pope told him to do snubbing the Pope?

You seem to have a deep-seated animosity towards Galileo that I feel is causing you to ignore contrary evidence that he *wasn't* being a dick as much as simply impolitic and too bold. But I suppose you have your view and I have mine, so there's no point in continuing this. We can't even agree on facts.

Re:The reason why (1)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26477681)

How is it snubbing the Pope? In the Dialogue there are three characters, Salviati (the heliocentric pusher), Sagredo (the neutral who is swayed by Salviati's arguments), and Simplicio (the steadfast dunce who can't get past Ptolemy and who is essentially a narrow-minded fool). Throughout the dialogue, we have Salviati arguing strongly for the heliocentric system, Sagredo jumping on the bandwagon, and Simplicio getting confused, reluctantly agreeing, or not wanting to argue further. So we go through four days of dialogue, with Simplicio never even scoring a point against the wit of Salviati, who dismantles Simplicio's arguments easily.

At the very end of the work, Simplicio pops up and says that even though he can't quite understand Salviati's arguments, they seem wondrous to him. But, he says, "neverthelesse I esteem it not true and concluding: but keeping alwayes before the eyes of my mind a solid Doctrine that I have learn't from a most learned and ingenuous person, and with which it is necessary to sit down". And then he spouts out a ghastly paraphrase of the Pope's argument to Galileo -- namely, that despite everything, God might have made it so, just because. In outrageous pantomime, Salviati and Sagredo fall on the ground defeated by this "truly Angelical Doctrine" -- despite spending four days in hot debate it's all too difficult for them to guess God's wisdom, and Hey! let's go and spend an hour in our gondola instead. It's impossible to read the work without ending up thinking the Pope a fool (and, well, a simpleton) and having a laugh along with Galileo at the narrow-mindedness of the church.

As a piece of polemical writing, the Dialogue is brilliant. But as a scholarly argument it's appalling, with Salviati setting up strawman after strawman to "prove" his points. So if I have a deep-seated animosity towards Galileo, it's because he chose to ignore the scientific method that he preached. As a scientist, I can only feel horror that he is idolised for behaviour that goes against every basic tenet of science. Was the church right to haul him before the inquisition? Obviously they weren't -- it was the reaction of a deeply conservative body which couldn't brook with any alternative argument, and utterly deplorable. But they gave Galileo every possible chance to avoid conflict, and his behaviour was similarly appalling in seeking the fight without the evidence to support himself.

Re:The reason why (4, Informative)

robkill (259732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454501)

Actually, Harriot also discovered sunspots prior to Galileo, and discovered Snell's law prior to Snell. He also was among the first to hypothesize the optimum lattice packing of spheres was the traditional hexagonal-based packing. (The book "Kepler's Conjecture" is a great read on this.) He simply didn't publish any of his work. THAT is why he is unknown.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Harriot [wikipedia.org]

Re:The reason why (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26455677)

He simply didn't publish any of his work.

Oh come on! That's like me saying "Well, if you don't know... I ain't going to tell you!"

Better yet, that's lke me saying "I know a lot more than you, but I ain't going to tell you what I know!"

Re:The reason why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26456521)

The true Scientist is the one who practices humility

--Master Shefu (kung-fu panda)

Re:The reason why (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26456883)

If he never published his findings, what posible contributory value do they have to the progress of science?

That's a bit of an extreme expression, since Copernicus only published posthumously (and I forget if it was with his permission ;))... but still. Why should he get respect for discovering awesome stuff, and then not sharing the knowledge? In the world of science, isn't that equivalent to being useless?

Re:The reason why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464253)

I think there is a point that is being missed here in the arguments on whether Harriot published or not. Harriot came up with some of the more important contributions that Galileo is credited with, independently and in the same time period. This indicates some of Galileo's discoveries were not a case of isolated genius. The world had been prepared for some of those discoveries by previous work. Remember that although there is no actual proof that Galileo ever dropped any weights from any tower, there is proof that several physicists that preceded him did. Harriot also came up with the concept of a parabolic trajectory of projectiles which he never published. Galileo is credited with this although he never published as well. So how can people argue that publication is the only thing that counts in science. If so, why isn't Bonaventura Cavalieri, the first to publish on parabolic trajectories, credited with parabolic trajectories.

Re:The reason why (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454911)

That, and Galileo published. That's vitally important. In science, you must share your results if you want any credit. If you don't share your great data or your brilliant theory, you're not really doing science, you're engaging in a hobby. Which isn't to say that Harriot didn't do great work, but let's not diminish Galileo's accomplishments. He not only did the work, he stuck his neck out and announced it. (And, in his case, he paid for it.)

Re:The reason why (1)

rippeltippel (1452937) | more than 5 years ago | (#26457405)

By the way, Galileo wasn't "Florentine": he was born in Pisa, not in Florence!

Re:The reason why (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26458415)

And his family moved to Florence when he was ten. Galileo himself would live in several cities as an adult.

Re:The reason why (1)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459505)

I am not so sure that Galileo discovered the rings of Saturn. From what I understand, he got frustrated with ever-changing Saturn and vowed to never look at it again. It was only after his death did it become apparent that what had frustrated Galileo were the rings of Saturn, seen from varying angles.

Re:The reason why (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26461391)

Hmmm.. Obviously Galileo > Harriot. Therefore, let's continue to completely ignore that Harriot guy and his groundbreaking work.

Slightly Biased Information? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26453821)

Thomas Harriot did draw the moon using a telescope a few months before Galileo.

This is his interpretation of what he saw through his telescope: http://galileo.rice.edu/images/things/harriot_moon1609.gif

Galileo's interpretation: http://moro.imss.fi.it/lettura/LetturaWEB.DLL?AZIONE=IMG&TESTO=E_Y&PARAM=03-66.jpg

" But Harriot was first... and his map of the Moon is better than Galileo's"

Umm. Galileo was an artist as well as a scientist and very good at Chiaroscuro artwork. He could visualize what he was seeing through the telescope. Even Harriot after seeing Galileo's pictures in Sidereus Nuncius took another look through his telescope, and guess what his next drawings were suspiciously similar to Galileo's :)

http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/harriot_moon1610_818.gif

Re:Slightly Biased Information? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454739)

First and better don't have to refer to the same drawing.

He drew a map first.
He drew a map better.
His first map was not better, but his later map was.
The structure of the statement in the summary doesn't exclude either interpretation.

Mapping The Moon Held Meaningless (0)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454419)

Galileo mapped the Moon as a consequence of using his telescope.

Harriot mapped the Moon as a consequence of having good eyesight and patience.

Using Galileo's method, anyone could repeat the process, especially with a better telescope, and get the same or better results. Using Harriot's method, anyone could repeat the experiment, probably producing worse results (God knows, I would) because their eyesight was normal or worse, while his was probably excellent, and they didn't have as long to waste on the process.

Comparing the two is like saying that X didn't take 1.5 volumes to get to the point of proving 1+1=2, as did Whitehead and Russell, and so X should be better known. The fact that the lemma proving 1+1=2 was put in as a bit of a joke is thus completely skipped, as is Galileo mapping the Moon because he had to start somewhere. His goal was to start using the telescope for astro-studies (astronomy and astrology being one thing, at that time).

Re:Mapping The Moon Held Meaningless (2)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26461419)

Moron, RTFA, it states that Harriot "beat Galileo to become the first man to view the Moon through a telescope".

Which Galileo, the dude or the probe? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26454513)

Took me about a minute to realize they were writing about the old italian guy.

My thinking was interrupted by the space probe of the same name that used a gravitational assist off the earth, and on the way took a couple cool pictures to tune up the cameras.

http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/images/moon.html [nasa.gov]

What about the other great Moon explorer... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26455015)

We should all give Pink Floyd credit for fully exploring the moon's dark side. If I recall correctly they did it with lasers and a lot of funny smelling smoke.

Re:What about the other great Moon explorer... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26462461)

As a matter of fact, it's all dark.

Yeah, ok (1)

chebucto (992517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26456611)

And we all know Galileo's only achievement was mapping the moon. It's not like he did anything else to cement his place in history.

Today is the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26458887)

The astronomic derived mathematics in the maya calendar are well understood all ready, but not widely known... because the author became shy some years ago (after public harashment by mexican government, related to his support to the EZLN i believe)

Look here: http://tzolkinhaab.googlepages.com/

Oh, those Brits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26461083)

I wonder if any of them have read Shakespeare in the original Klingon?

William Gilbert's Lunar Map (1)

wrhamblen (1319611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26461365)

William Gilbert drew the oldest known map of the Moon in 1600. His map was based on naked eye observations.

Easier that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464685)

it's easier to remember one bloke and all the things he did. If we had to remember all the guys who ACTUALLY did things first we'd never be able to leave history at school. Should we start talking about all the people before Newton?

British Firsts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26465499)

First the Colossus, then RSA, and now the Moon!

25 years down the road they're going to release documents telling us that they left a teapot on mars back in the 50's.

Uhm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26483933)

"two of his friends were imprisoned in the Tower of London for political crimes."

Given the history of the British monarchy and specifically the history of the Tower of London, shouldn't that read
"two of his friends were probably falsely imprisoned in the Tower of London for alleged political crimes."

I think someone has missed the point. (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26496877)

> after all, we all know Galileo. But Harriot was first...

Umm, call me wacky, but I'm pretty sure Galileo is not widely known because he drew maps of the moon. Frankly, until today, I was not even aware that he _did_ that (although it's not at all surprising, given how obvious a thing the moon is to look at once you've got a telescope set up).
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