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news and things sacred and irreverent put together by opinionated people.

Vatican Celebrates History of Astronomy (trying to make up for their Galileo blunder)

Posted by dorian on October 14, 2009

Vatican Astronomy

AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito | Celebration of Space A celestial globe dating back to 1567 and attributed to Giovanni Vanosino is on display on the Vatican. The Vatican is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first celestial observations with a series of exhibits that catalog the history of astronomy.

Celebration of Space | Discovery News

Oct. 13, 2009 — Rudimentary telescopes, celestial globes and original manuscripts by Galileo are going on view at the Vatican Museums as part of an exhibit marking the 400th anniversary of the astronomer’s first celestial observations.

Astrum 2009: Astronomy and Instruments” traces the history of astronomy through its tools, from a 3rd century A.D. globe of the zodiac to the increasingly complicated telescopes used in more recent times to gaze at the stars.

At a briefing to launch the exhibit Tuesday, Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s top culture official, declined to revisit the Church’s 17th century condemnation of Galileo for his discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Church teaching at the time placed the Earth at the center of the universe.

Rather, Ravasi said that, while it was necessary to have the courage to admit errors when they were made, “I continue to believe that it’s necessary to look more to the future.”

The church denounced Galileo’s theory as dangerous to the faith. Tried as a heretic in 1633 and forced to recant, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, later changed to house arrest.

The ruling helped fuel accusations that the church was hostile to science — a reputation the Vatican has been trying to shed ever since.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II declared that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from “tragic mutual incomprehension.”

Galileo and the Inquisition


Galileo before the Holy Office in 1633

The exhibit, and other Vatican initiatives to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy, is part of the Vatican’s continuing rehabilitation effort.

One of the highlights of the show is Galileo’s original manuscript of “Sidereus Nuncius,” the 1610 document in which he excitedly recorded his first discoveries after using his telescope.

Tommaso Maccacaro, president of Italy’s national institute of astrophysics, said it was important to look at the instruments not just from a scientific view but from a cultural one as well, since astronomy has had such an impact on the way we perceive ourselves.

“It was astronomical observations that let us understand that Earth (and man) don’t have a privileged position or role in the universe,” he said in his prepared comments to the briefing. “I ask myself what tools will we use in the next 400 years, and I ask what revolutions of understanding they’ll bring about, like resolving the mystery of our apparent cosmic solitude.”

The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Jan. 16.

my favorite heretic


“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use”


9 Responses to “Vatican Celebrates History of Astronomy (trying to make up for their Galileo blunder)”

  1. dorian said

    ADKOB field trip to rome! let’s bring the guitars, TBG – we can make extra euros playing for the tourists.


  2. I will do my dance of the seven veils.


  3. dorian said

    and here is the fabulous(princess) salome. you’re sure to make a big hit, P!

    “off with his head” said the evil queen .


  4. 1minionsopinion said

    Makes me wish I had oodles of moolah and the free time to go to stuff like this. Why can’t anyone get a teleporter invented? Sheesh.


  5. dorian said

    hello minion!! great to see you here!
    tell me about it. i’ve been workin on that teleporter. in the meantime there’s astral projection. take 4 nyquil according to princess, and you’re off! have you met our resident fundie? her name is kay. we love her like family that we already are, but we sure torment her at times. she torments us too so it’s all cool…


  6. obama the antichrist said

    dont tempt me dorian!!!! my dream vacation is to rome…i am so up for it AHAHAHHA. i guess my four years of latin in high school can come in handy at the vatican. HA


  7. dorian said

    a field trip, i’m telling you. i can still say some prayers in latin. that and your four years in high school – to the vatican!! i really want to see that 1567 celestial globe and galileo’s manuscripts. i stayed at one of galileo’s houses (my italian friend inherited it) and i was hoping to conjure galileo’s ghost. nothing. i stared at some very old beams in the ceiling, though. e_e has to help me fix the teleporter machine. i’m glad minion reminded me about that. i’m catching princess’ cold. better put it and myself to bed. ‘nite!!


  8. Sorry, but I VatiCAN’T make it this year.


  9. dorian said

    haha TBG


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