NAME: Galileo Galilei (Italian)
BORN/DIED: 15th Feb 1564 – 8th Jan 1642
JOB: Astronomer, Physicist, Engineer, Philosopher, Mathematician
KEY FACTS: Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. His father was a famous musician and he himself became an accomplished lute player. Galileo almost joined the priesthood but his father persuaded him to study medicine at university. Whilst at university he developed an interest in mathematics and chose to study this instead of medicine.
Galileo was influenced by the idea of a heliocentric solar system (sun-centric) developed by Nicolas Copernicus. He agreed with this view and built himself a telescope in order to view the planets. Soon his version of a telescope was used throughout Europe. His heliocentric views were controversial at the time as many people believed in a geocentric model in which the planets circled the Earth.
ACHIEVEMENTS: His achievements have led him to be called ‘the father of modern physics’, ‘the father of science’ and ‘the father of observational astronomy’. He made many groundbreaking observations including the phases of Venus, the discovery of Saturn’s rings, and the discover of some of Jupiters largest satellites.