Orbits of the moons of Jupiter, 1613.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustrated plate from 'Istoria e Dimonstrazioni Intorno all Macchie Solari' by the Italian astronomer, physicist and mathematician Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). It shows the orbits of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, called the 'Medicean planets' by Galileo. Although not the inventor of the telescope, Galileo was the first to use it succesfully for astronomical observation, discovering mountains on the Moon, the phases of Venus, and sunspots, as well as four of Jupiter's moons. Amongst Galileo's many achievements is his suggested general scientific approach to the investigation of celestial phenomena. He supported the Copernican heliocentric model of the Solar System, which led to him being found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition in 1633.