Author of the painting: Justus Sustermans

Pisa, Italy, February 15, 1564-Arcetri, Italy, January 8, 1642

Galileo Galilei was an astronomer, physicist, mathematician, engineer and Italian philosopher, whose work on the heliocentric theory led him to appear before the Inquisition. He was one of the forerunners of the modern scientific method.

He studied at the University of Pisa and later became interested in mathematics and astronomy. From 1589 he began teaching in that institution, between 1592 and 1630 he was professor of mathematics at the University of Padua. Meanwhile, he made a lot of experiments on the speed of falling objects, by throwing them from the top of the tower of Pisa.

Artist: Ottavio Leoni

Galileo Galilei / Artist: Ottavio Leoni

He built several telescopes with which he observed the mountainous terrain of the moon, discovered four satellites of Saturn and the phases of this planet, he made a revelation about sunspots and discovered that the Milky Way is composed of numerous stars. Thanks to his work, he was appointed court mathematician in Florence.

He supported the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, but at the time this statement was against the Catholic Church and in 1614 he was brought to the Inquisition accused of heresy; although he wasn’t severely condemned, he was banned from teaching theory. In 1633 he was again accused of heresy, following the publication of the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. On that occasion he was sentenced to life imprisonment and house arrest.

He left a legacy of large contributions to astronomy and the study of the movement, and his works exerted a strong influence on the work of later scientists like Isaac Newton.