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Galileo’s goof or a clever concealment?

April 28, 2011

Galileo knew he had discovered a new planet in 1613, 234 years before its official discovery date, according to a new theory by a University of Melbourne physicist.

Professor David Jamieson, Head of the School of Physics, is investigating the notebooks of Galileo from 400 years ago and believes that buried in the notations is the evidence that he discovered a new planet that we now know as Neptune.

Galileo was observing the moons of Jupiter in the years 1612 and 1613 and recorded his observations in his notebooks. Over several nights he also recorded the position of a nearby star which does not appear in any modern star catalogue.

“It has been known for several decades that this unknown star was actually the planet Neptune. Computer simulations show the precision of his observations revealing that Neptune would have looked just like a faint star almost exactly where Galileo observed it,” Professor Jamieson says.

But a planet is different to a star because planets orbit the Sun and move through the sky relative to the stars. It is remarkable that on the night of January 28 in 1613 Galileo noted that the “star” we now know is the planet Neptune appeared to have moved relative to an actual nearby star.”

There is also a mysterious unlabeled black dot in his earlier observations of January 6, 1613, which is in the right position to be Neptune. [read more]

A Muse. Me?

Consider some of the events of the early 17th Century, preceeding Galileo’s almost discovery of Neptune, and just after:

The Authorized King James Version is an English translation by the Church of England of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611.

1613: The Time of Troubles in Russia ends with the establishment of the House of Romanov which rules until 1917.

1620: The Puritan Pilgrams arrive at Cape Cod in the Mayflower. Consider the legacies of the Mayflower Compact and Thanksgiving (carving pumpkins selling for $26 in Australia in 2010!)

And let’s not forget Galileo’s Troubles from 1610, the stress of which may have made his discovering a new planet that proved Copernicus’ theory all that more tricky and maybe not a smart thing to announce.  ‘

There is never a moment in life when things are not changing. Though we long for and clutch at comfort and predictability, still events move forward within the medium we call time. Time is how we measure our experience, our movement between our evolving points of view and the understandings that follow, and ultimately the medium in which we learn to live in the Eternal NOW. [read more at Aquarius Papers]

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