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Books

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

A review of Galileo’s Telescope reveals how once it was considered the most dangerous instrument in the world

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

Galileo’s Telescope: A European Story Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota and Franco Giudice, translated by Catherine Bolton

Harvard University Press, pp.352, £24.95, ISBN: 9780674736917

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, revealing a bizarre double-lobed mountain of ice and rock with landscapes of vertiginous crags and ashen scree slopes. In our image-saturated age it’s easy to forget that such views are only possible through the intermediary of sophisticated technology: cameras and computers and the spacecraft that carry them halfway across the solar system.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £22.95 Tel: 08430 600033. Marek Kukula is Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

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