400 Years Ago Today, Galileo Didn’t Invent the Telescope

There are many myths about Galileo. One is that he invented the telescope. (He didn’t. Hans Lippershey gets the honors. A year afterward, on this date four hundred years ago, Galileo demonstrated his version of the device to merchants in Venice. (The sale price was not a pound of flesh.)

Here’s a little quiz to see how good you are at separating fact from fiction. Jot down which you think are true and which are false:

1. Aristotle’s cosmology put the earth at the center because it reflected man as the center of the universe.

2. Copernicus hesitated to publish his notion that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of the universe because he feared the Inquisition.

3. Calvin severely criticized Copernicus and upheld Aristotelian cosmology.

4. Galileo was the first person to use a telescope to examine the heavens.

5. Galileo dropped two cannon balls of different size from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

6. Galileo discovered the dynamics of the pendulum.

7. Galileo invented the pendulum clock.

8. Galileo ignored Church doctrine when publishing his “Letters on Sunspots” in 1613.

9. Intellectuals in secular circles supported Galileo and those in the church opposed him.

10. Galileo was imprisoned in harsh conditions and treated severely before and during his trial of 1633.

11. Galileo said that the “Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

I’ve put the answers in the first comment. How did you do?

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

One thought on “400 Years Ago Today, Galileo Didn’t Invent the Telescope”

  1. Those of you who read my blog of April 21, 2009, know that number one is false. But, believe it or not, every statement included in the quiz is false.
    Philip Sampson’s “Six Modern Myths about Christianity and Western Civilization” has a fascinating chapter on Galileo that sets the record straight on all these statements. The rest of the book is an eye opener too!


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