How Galileo started a cultural revolution from Piazza San Marco

The telescope show
In the early 17th century the smartphones weren’t there yet, but people were queueing up for technology nonetheless. Galileo Galilei held the first public demonstration of his telescope from Piazza San Marco, in 1609.

Looking towards far away cities

Notables rushed from every corner of Venice to discover the instrument and point it toward distant towns, islands and galleys at sea.

Seeing the universe

But something different was going on in Galileo’s mind: he was the first to systematically point a telescope towards the heavens, changing the way we see the Universe.

The collapse of certainties

Galileo’s first telescopic observations of the Moon paved the way for discoveries that would cast doubt upon centuries-old beliefs.

A big event

Many contemporary documents describe Galileo’s public demonstration as an incredible and amazing event.

From defense to exploration

Although the Senate’s interest in the telescope was motivated by defense purposes, they welcomed Galileo and supported his research—even when it rapidly transcended the material purpose to explore the sky.

The rise of new ideas
Galileo’s observations swept the previous conception of heavens as the realm of perfection away. The Moon was in fact not spherical and, with its scarred surface, hardly perfect.

Beyond the limits

Galileo’s revolutionary thought embodies the spirit of scientific discovery and started here, in Piazza San Marco. The conquest of the sky is among mankind’s efforts to surpass their own limits, where the Moon was the first challenge – and it still is.

The Galileo project

Today, the ASI – Italian Space Agency is a main actor in the GALILEO project, a satellite navigation and tracking system entirely designed for civilian use that can offer a positioning accuracy of less than 10 cm, a precision never before achieved. A system that is not subject to the limitations or interruptions typical of other systems designed for military purposes, starting with the American GPS.

Credits: All media
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