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Publishers WeeklyOn the occasion of the telescope's 400th birthday, author and former NASA scientist Maran (Astronomy for Dummies) and physics professor Marschall (The Supernova Story) examine how Galileo's invention led to ground-breaking discoveries and the confirmation of the heliocentric Copernican hypothesis. Alternating between Galileo's perspective and that of 21st century astrophysics, Maran and Marschall dramatize the "profound novelty" of Galileo's first steps and the enormous distance we've come since: astronomer s now collect more information in an "eyeblink" than Galileo could in three years of systematic observation. Though a Dutchman fashioned the first rudimentary telescope ("two disks of glass and a piece of lead pipe"), the improvements Galileo developed in 1609 turned the humble spyglass (a military and shipping aid) into a precision instrument for studying the heavens. Galileo's first astonishing discovery was that the Moon, previously thought to be an ethereal body entirely unlike the earth, had a landscape. Just two years later he was observing sun spots and tracking Venus. A charming peek into astronomy's "family album," this lively history is ideal for armchair scientists and stargazers.
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