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Galileo Galilei's father, Vincenzo Galilei (c.1520 - 1591), who described himself as a nobleman of Florence, was a professional musician. He carried out experiments on strings to support his musical theories. Galileo studied medicine at the university of Pisa, but his real interests were always in mathematics and natural philosophy. He is chiefly remembered for his work on free fall, his use of the telescope and his employment of experimentation.
After a spell teaching mathematics, first privately in Florence and then at the university of Pisa, in 1592 Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at the university of Padua (the university of the Republic of Venice). There his duties were mainly to teach Euclid's geometry and standard (geocentric) astronomy to medical students, who would need to know some astronomy in order to make use of astrology in their medical practice. However, Galileo apparently discussed more unconventional forms of astronomy and natural philosophy in a public lecture he gave in connection with the appearance of a New Star (now known as 'Kepler's supernova') in 1604. In a personal letter written to Kepler (1571 - 1630) in 1598, Galileo had stated that he was a Copernican (believer in the theories of Copernicus). No public sign of this belief was to appear until many years later.
In the summer of 1609, Galileo heard about a spyglass that a Dutchman had shown in Venice. From these reports, and using his own technical skills as a mathematician and as a workman, Galileo made a series of telescopes whose optical performance was much better than that of the Dutch instrument. The astronomical discoveries he made with his telescopes were described in a short book called Message from the stars (Sidereus Nuncius) published in Venice in May 1610. It caused a sensation. Galileo claimed to have seen mountains on the Moon, to have proved the Milky Way was made up of tiny stars, and to have seen four small bodies orbiting Jupiter. These last, with an eye on getting a job in Florence, he promptly named 'the Medicean stars'.
It worked. Soon afterwards, Galileo became 'Mathematician and [Natural] Philosopher' to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In Floren
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