Galileo’s sunspot illustrations

Galileo's sunspot illustrations in a 6x6 mosaic
Back in the summer of 1612, Galileo did a series of daily observations of the sun. His illustrations were reproduced in his Letters on Sunspots of 1613. The work, part of an ongoing scientific battle with Christoph Scheiner, settled a lot of the contemporary debate on sunspots, killing the idea that the sun had minor satellites and proving our universe just a bit more imperfect.

My weekend project: I took those 35 drawings and put them into a big mosaic of sunspots.1 Sort of a comic strip approach. Not as dynamic as a movie, but then again I can’t frame a movie and mount it on my wall. If you’re so inclined, I also have a giant sunspot mosaic PDF to share with you—20 inches on a side. I had a ton of fun with this thing.

1. The original scans came from the rare book collection of Owen Gingerich via The Galileo Project. Dr. Gingerich was also kind enough to spare a few minutes on the telephone. Great guy.