Last Reviewed and Updated on June 26, 2022
Galileo was an astronomer and mathematician who developed many theories about the laws of motion. He was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15th, 1564. There are many interesting facts about Galileo Galilei to explore, from his important discoveries to where you can see his middle finger.
1. He dropped out of university
Many brilliant minds in history had trouble with education and Galileo Galilei was one of them. His father wanted him to study medicine, so he was enrolled at the University of Pisa to study it. During his studies, he became interested in mathematics and focused on these studies. He never finished this school, so he never earned a degree.
2. He didn’t invent the telescope, but he did improve upon it
It’s easy to associate telescopes with Galileo Galilei, but he wasn’t the one who invented them. He was the first to successfully point it at the sky and use the telescope to observe astronomical objects, rather than just use it to look at objects at a long distance on Earth.
He increased the magnification of his telescope as well as made other modifications that allowed him to control the aperture.
3. He was accused of and imprisoned for heresy
He was an accomplished scientist and made many discoveries, some not to the liking of the Catholic Church and people in high places. His belief that the sun was at the center of our Solar System rather than the Earth, and his teaching of this, was what led to Galileo being put on trial for suspicion of heresy.
He would spend the last years of his life imprisoned in his house. To avoid more severe punishment, he had to renounce many of his scientific findings and never teach them again.
4. Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter
On January 7th, 1610, Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter.
5. He also discovered the rings of Saturn
When he first observed the rings he didn’t know what they were. His first guess was they were enormous moons orbiting Saturn. He observed the rings over a course of years and noted they change shape or even disappear completely, depending on their inclination from the viewpoint of Earth. He wasn’t able to identify them as rings but was unable to identify them as such.
6. Galileo was the first person to observe Neptune, but he thought it was a dim star
He observed what would later be identified as Neptune but disregarded it. Galileo thought of it as a dim dull star, not worthy of mention.
7. He had 3 children out of wedlock
He never married but he did have 3 children with Mariana Gamba. The exact reasons for him not marrying remain unknown, but it is possible the reasons were financial or it would affect his social standing.
8. Galileo considered becoming a priest, but his father urged him to study for a medical degree
Galileo was learning in a monastery and he considered becoming a priest. His father didn’t want him to pursue a career in religion so he removed him from his schooling in the monastery and enrolled him to study medicine at the University of Pisa.
9. He discovered that all objects tend to accelerate equally in the free fall
Sir Isaac Newton was the first who penciled down the mathematical equations and the laws of gravity but he wasn’t the first to be aware of such forces existing. In fact Newton Expanded on the work that was done by Galileo Galilei, who discovered that all objects tend to accelerate equally in the free fall.
10. His middle finger is on display in a museum
This is one of the weirdest facts about Galileo Galilei, you can see his middle finger on a display in a museum. If you ever visit the Museo di Storia del Scienza in Florence in Italy you can see it.