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.

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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.

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