Galileo used the newly invented telescope to persuade people that the moon was not a perfectly smooth sphere, as all celestial objects were believed to be at that time, but had mountains and valleys and craters that made it seem just like the Earth. This caused considerable consternation at that time with some denying what they saw, saying that it was the telescope that was creating those blemishes.
An amateur astronomer set up a powerful but portable telescope at various locations in Los Angeles and invited people to look at the moon through it. Their sense of surprise and wonder is lovely to see. Some cannot believe that the moon they take for granted is so amazing. We need to take science to the streets like this.
Steve Cameron says
“Oh my god!” “Wow!”
This is inspiring af. Makes me want to buy a better telescope.
Matt G says
I have a Galileoscope which I bought in the International Year of Astronomy (2009) for $15 (soon after, the price skyrocketed because of demand). The moon looks amazing just using the 25x configuration. It is shocking how little the average person knows about science. I am often shocked by how little highly intelligent and highly educated people know about science.
I remember hearing that when Los Angeles had a major blackout for some reason, many residents were seeing the night sky with no light pollution for the first time, and that some even called emergency services to report various astronomical objects as ‘strange lights in the sky’.
chigau (違う) says
Those people were very lucky.
Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says
My dad got me into astronomy because “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork”. Holy shit, did he get that wrong. The heavens show us how trivial and pointless the gods really are.
Galileo saw and noted the planet Neptune, but he thought it was just another star.
There is an astronomy package “PyEphem” for the popular programming language Python. Here is a quote from the webpage of the guy who wrote PyEphem.
That last line tells us that Jupiter and Neptune were less than a quarter of a degree of arc apart on that date.
Edit! A quarter of a degree of arc, not a quarter of a minute.
[I edited it-MS]
Tabby Lavalamp says
The one thing I hate about living in a city and the modern world is the light pollution. That does though make the celestial bodies we can see that much extra special.
Not only celestial objects. On Boy Scout camping trips we were surprised by the number of satellites we were able to observe.
I remember Echo 1, the big metalized mylar balloon that was in orbit in the early 1960’s. It was easily visible in Chicago, even with all of the light pollution.