Galileo Study Guide

This essay has a total of 1590 words and 6 pages.


Solomon Barnett
History 291
November 19


In the early seventeenth century, Galileo Galilei began the construction of a device that
would transform the scientific world. Galileo did not invent the telescope but his
improvements on it made him the most scientifically successful user of this instrument in
his time. However, Galileo would not stop at scientific discovery. The father of three
successfully marketed the improved instrument to the Senate of Venice and the Grand Duke
Cosimo II of Tuscany in hopes of possibly furthering his career. In the telescope's
transitional form, Galileo is able to obtain a salary raise and a permanent position at
the University of Padua but he is disappointed with this offer and continues to make
improvements on the telescope. He realizes that his ties to Cosimo's court, he taught the
Grand Duke when he was younger, could be used to his advantage. The medium for his
objective was The Sidereal Messenger. This treatise gives a direct dedication to Cosimo
and his court with the hope that he will gain its favor and "patronage from the ruler of
his native land." It is also the medium through which he conveys his advocacy of the
Copernican system, particularly using his telescopically enhanced observations of the
moon's irregular surface and Jupiter's moons.

Galileo saw the opportunity to gain a great deal from his telescope from the beginning of
its conception. The senate of Venice offered him an increase in salary and a permanent
appointment at the University based on Galileo's first improvement which only magnified
objects by ten times . He realized that the telescope could improve his financial
situation but he was smart enough to not settle for his first offer. He quickly wrote to
the Tuscan court about his discoveries. When Galileo heard that the Grand Duke Cosimo and
his three brothers were astonished by his almost supernatural intelligence, he realized
that he could use this to his advantage. The brilliant Florentine patrician had ties to
Cosimo's court because he tutored him in math as a child. The courts were also very
interested in these dazzling things and wanted them for military purposes . Cosimo's court
did not stray from this generalization and Galileo knew it. It can also be theorized that
this position was much desired and after he attained the position "it combined the
advantages of those tow professional identities while avoiding many of their drawbacks."

His observations of the irregular surface of the moon and his discovery of Jupiter's moons
gave him much to work with. Galileo informed the court of his plan to place the name of
Cosimo de Medici II in the stars, as the ancient sages did with the most excellent heroes
of their time, by naming the newly found stars, or moons, after him. Clearly this would
help him gain the Duke's favor. The second step was to dedicate the treatise on his
telescopic discoveries to the Grand Duke. He opens his book with a reverent and adulating
dedication. It contains many deifying words, often giving the Duke illustrious and almost
divine exploits. This type of dedication was common practice for scientists who needed
funding but his position is furthered by the fact that he is naming heavenly bodies and
not earthly things. Because of this, the Duke's name would me mentioned in the same breath
as heroes such as Jupiter and Mars or Hercules and Mercury. In succeeding pages, the
author continues to worship the Duke and his "agreeableness of manners, splendor of the
royal blood, majesty in actions, and breadth of authority and rule over others." It is
clear from the dedication letter to the Duke that Galileo is writing for two audiences,
one of these audiences being his scientific peers and the other being the Grand Duke
Cosimo II. Obviously, Galileo had the Duke's patronage in mind and all the key steps in
attaining this patronage had been completed except proving that his observations were
true. After dedicating his work to Cosimo, sending him a copy of his observations and a
telescope to verify them, Galileo went personally to Tuscany to explain his observations .
His visit was very successful and Galileo was granted a position at the Tuscan court by
the Grand Duke Cosimo II. During this time, he was also granted the position of principal
mathematician at the University of Pisa, a position that incurred no further duties by
Galileo . He now had a very valuable resource in the court and a wonderful job. Galileo
used his telescopic observances to his advantage and his dedication to the Duke was very
profitable. However, Galileo's work was not purely written in order to attain patronage
from the Duke.

The scientific implications of The Sidereal Messenger were the most significant part of
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