The Trial of Galileo
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Church Team #1
Discuss how the astronomical observations do not necessitate accepting Copernicanism -- and that the 1616 edict to regard it as hypothetical and a mathematical formalism is warranted scientifically.

  • Imagine yourself as Christopher Scheiner? Discuss the Church's support of astronomy. Show that the Church includes skilled astronomers (such as Christoph Clavius and yourself) who can credibly disagree with Galileo's claims. Discuss your own work on and interpretation of sunspots. (For further depth, discuss how Galileo treats you in the Dialogue.)
  • Show how Tycho Brahe provides an important alternative for accommodating Galileo's observations (of the moon's surface, the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, etc.). (For further depth, discuss how Galileo addresses --or fails to address?-- the Tychonic system in the Dialogue.)
  • Imagine yourself as Orazio (Horatio) Grassi? Discuss the importance of your work on comets to the Tychonic system -- and Galileo's errors.
  • Discuss the significance of stellar parallax in deciding between Tychonic and Copernican systems -- and Galileo's failure to provide evidence for it.


On the role of the Church in astronomy, see:
  • Michel-Pierre Lerner's Chap. 1 and Irving Kelter's Chap. 2 in McMullin's The Church and Galileo
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church, esp. Ch. 11.
  • Heilbron's The Sun in the Church

    On Scheiner, see:
  • Blackwell, Behind the Scenes at Galileo’s Trial, Chap. 4
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church

    On the Tychonic system, see:
  • Thomas Kuhn's, The Copernican Revolution, Chap. 6 or
  • Michael Crowe's Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution, Chap. 7
  • Margolis, Howard. 1991. "Tycho's System and Galileo's Dialogue." Studies in the Hist. and Phil. of Sci. 22:259-75.

    On Grassi, see:
  • Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier, pp.267-301 on "Courtly Comets"
  • Stillman Drake and C.D. O’Malley, The Controversy on the Comets of 1618: Galileo Galilei, Horatio Grassi, Mario Guiducci, Johann Kepler. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press (1960).

    On parallax, see:
  • overview at The Galileo Project
  • relevant sections of the Dialogue (esp. Day 3) -- see index
  • J. Cassanovas, "The Problem of the Annual Parallax in Galileo's Time," pp. 67-XX in The Galileo Affair, G.V. Coyne, M. Heller, and J. Zycinski. (eds.), Vatican City: Specola Vaticana (1985).
  • Harald Siebert, "The early search for stellar parallax: Galileo, Castelli, and Ramponi," Journal for the History of Astronomy 36(2005): 251 - 271