Spotting the spots.

As I have commented on more than one occasion Galileo was not the only European astronomer to point a telescope at the heavens in the first years after its invention in Holland in 1608. In fact all of the telescopic discoveries for which Galileo is famous were made independently by other observers in the same period and if he had never existed it would have made little or no difference to the development of telescopic astronomy. These parallel discoveries often led to bitter priority disputes between the Tuscan mathematicus and those rash enough to claim independent discovery. A famous example is the pamphlet war between Galileo and the Jesuit astronomer from Ingolstadt, Christoph Scheiner, as too who first discovered the sunspots. The irony of this particular priority dispute is that the English astronomer Thomas Harriot discovered the sunspots before both of them and the first to publish  the telescopic discovery of sunspots was Johann Fabricius, the eldest son of the Frisian village priest and amateur astronomer David Fabricius, who was born on 8th January 1587. You can read his story here.

About thonyc

Aging freak who fell in love with the history of science and now resides mostly in the 16th century.
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