Men Who “See” Stars

by Piergiorgio ODIFREDDI

On January 7, 1610, Galileo wrote a letter to Antonio de’ Medici where he briefly reported on the results of his first observations of the sky through a telescope exactly 400 years ago, late in the summer of 1609. The letter con­cluded with some news of the day: “Only this evening I have seen Jupiter accompa­nied by three fixed stars totally invisible because of their smallness.” With under­standable and justifiable pride, he also noticed: “We can believe to have been the first in the world to discover some­thing about the heavenly bodies from so nearby and so distinctly.”