‘Starry Messenger’ Sheds Light on ‘Heavens in the Age of Galileo’

In the autumn of 1609, the Italian mathematician and astronomer Galileo Gallilei turned his telescope to the heavens, deciphering the cratered face of the moon, the four satellites of Jupiter and other features of the sky.

The discoveries Galileo made 400 years ago are explored in a new exhibition at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library called “Starry Messenger: Observing the Heavens in the Age of Galileo.” It is co-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy.

On view April 28 through June 30, the exhibition also explores the instruments of observation used in European astronomy from the 16th through the 18th centuries. It draws in part on a recently acquired collection of early modern comet literature.

A talk by best-selling author Dava Sobel will kick off the exhibit on Tuesday, April 28, at 4 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium at the Yale Law School, 127 Wall St. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A former New York Times science reporter, Sobel is the author of “Longitude,” “The Planets” and “Galileo’s Daughter,” which spent five weeks as the number-one New York Times nonfiction bestseller and was a 2000 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography. The book chronicles the work of Galileo through more than 100 letters his daughter wrote to him. Sobel has also written for Discover, Life, Audubon and The New Yorker.

The talk and exhibit are two of a number of special events celebrating the International Year of Astronomy, a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the universe. The International Year of Astronomy marks the 400th anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by Galileo.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall St., is open for exhibition viewing Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The library is closed on May 25.

For more information about Yale’s International Year of Astronomy events, visit www.yale.edu/iya.

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this