Observing with Galileo: How the first telescopic views of the celestial sphere changed the world

Presented by Prof David Jamieson, University of Melbourne

From 1609 to 1613 Galileo used his own astronomical telescope of unprecedented precision and power to make an avalanche of astounding new discoveries. This triggered a revolution in the way humanity sees its place in the cosmos.

Some of these discoveries are well known like the discovery of the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus and the lunar landscape. But there is a surprise drawn from the pages of Galileo’s logbooks. He notes the position of a "fixed star" that does not exist in any star chart. This is because it is really the planet Neptune which Galileo observed 234 years before its official discovery.

Remarkably, the notes from Galileo's observations reveal he observed Neptune move on two successive nights of January 1613. Did he know this "fixed star" was a planet? If so, this would be the first discovery of a new planet by humanity since deep antiquity.
As I will discuss, evidence that Galileo realised he had seen a new planet could still be hidden deep in his notebooks. In this talk, Professor Jamieson will report on his examination of Galileo's notebooks and tell us what he found and what still might be undiscovered.

BIO: David is a Professor of Physics at the University of Melbourne where he was Head of the School 2008-13. He has a PhD from Melbourne and held postdoctoral fellowships at Caltech (USA) and the University of Oxford (UK). He was President of the Australian Institute of Physics from 2005-6. His research expertise in the field of ion beam physics applied to test some of the key functions of a revolutionary quantum computer constructed in silicon in the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. In 2013 he received an outstanding service to physics award from the AIP. He is also actively involved in physics outreach activities, regularly giving public lectures on fundamental issues in physics.

This will be a live, interactive broadcast on YouTube. 

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Wednesday 02 Sep 2020

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM




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