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Sidereus Nuncius, or The Sidereal Messenger Paperback – April 15, 1989

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226279039 ISBN-10: 0226279030 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226279030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226279039
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Hoehne on October 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sometimes reading the great works of literature- be they scientific, historical, fictional or otherwise- is a chore. The language is often stilted and the reasons for an author touching on a given subject are not entirely clear. Not so with this excellent translation of Galileo's "Starry Messenger" or, as he called it in the original latin, Sidereus Nuncius. Albert van Helden has provided us with an excelent and wonderfully readable translation of one of the most thrilling "messages" of the last thousand years: that is, that the universe is much more than it seems to the naked eye.
Van Helden divides his book into three sections: First, he gives a well researched, well footnoted, introduction to Galieo and his times. We learn about the invention of the telescope (then called the "Spyglass")- an exceptionally crude instrument by even the most modest of today's standards. Van Helden tells his story with abundant quotes from the writings of Galileo's contemporaries. Amongst other things, we learn that another astonomer, Thomas Harriot, may have observed the moon with a telescope somewhat before Galileo, but that his observations, through an inferior instrument, did not reveal much more than could be seen with the naked eye. We learn about the then dominant view of the univserse, the geocentric "Aristotelean" model and the arguments given in favor of it. We also learn about Galileo himself. The publication of the "Starry Messenger," was, it seems, a bit of a rush job, as a financially strapped Galileo wanted priority for his discoveries and the position and money that he though would go with it.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David on April 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is Galileo's report of his first discoveries with the telescope, especially his drawings of the moon and obervations of Jupiter's satellites. To read Galileo's ideas, methods, and results first hand gives an idea of his brilliance and attention to detail. This book was crucial in the development of the Copernican revolution. It is exciting to read, and not at all difficult.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Tragesser on November 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This new translation, with introduction, conclusion, and notes, by famed author Albert Van Helden is a wonderful reading of Galileo Galilei's timeless classic, Sidereus Nuncius. For all who are astronomy fans, Van Helden, Professor of History at Rice University, gives readers a glimpse of the man, Galileo, and his earth-shattering findings. In his book,Sidereus Nuncius, or the Sidereal Messenger, Galileo describes his reinvention of the refracting telescope and his subsequent astronomical discoveries. Never before has a scientific instrument had a more dramatic impact than that of Galileo's telescope. It not only advanced scientific knowledge, but affected personal philosophy and religion by upsetting the traditional belief of the Earth as the center of the universe. Galileo's work challenged the geocentric cosmology that had been accepted since the days of Aristotle. If Galileo's discoveries and carefully documented observations were true, people had to accept the fact that the Earth was not at the center of the universe. This was very difficult for people in the 17th century to accept because it went against long held beliefs.. Add Galileo's analysis of an imperfect moon and people were force to reevaluate history,science, and their personal religions. Galileo opened the door to the truth about our heliocentric universe; however, few people of his day were prepared to accept it. Van Helden's translation, based on the original 1610 Latin text, is a wonderful book for all those who enjoy gazing into the heavens on a clear, star-filled night in wonder. Galileo Galilei did the same. Everyone will enjoy reading Sidereus Nuncius, as Galileo's voice echoes down the centuries and brings his amazing discoveries to life.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark Garrett on February 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book will help you understand just how much Galileo affected and reflected the science of the time and even the science of today. I had the privilage of taking Prof. Van Helden's courses at Rice U. and they were some of the most informational and facinating courses I took. He is now emeritus, but hopefully that means we can look forward to more excellent translations and commentary in the years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald E. Fulton on January 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone interested in Astronomy should buy this edition of this classic little book, it's a quick read. Galileo's text conveys his excitement as he is telling people what he's seen with his new instruments, and you can sense his joy as he explains to the philosophers, academics and clerics that he now knows, knows and can prove (!), that the world is very different from what they have long taught!

The book is essentially two essays: the original Galileo text (in translation) with his drawings, and interesting background and context material by Van Helden on Galileo, telescopes, and astronomy of the time. Galileo here is putting down on paper the record of his first few months of observing, so there's a fair amount of detail, some interesting and some not so interesting (like page after page showing the alignment of the four satellites of Jupiter), but with the addition of Van Helden's background material the result is nice little book.

One little tidbit of Galileo's that I enjoyed, which I have not seen elsewhere, was his simple explanation of how his observations of the moon's light/dark terminator allowed him to calculate the height of mountains on the moon. He got 4 miles, which with a little trigonometry anyone can check.
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