Galileo Facts For Kids

Galileo Facts For Kids

So who was this man called Galileo and what did he do? Read on to find out more about this amazing man!

Galileo

His full name was Galileo Galilei and he was an Italian scientist who opened the eyes of the world to a new way of thinking about how our solar system works and astronomy in general.

For many years scientists believed that the solar system revolved around the Earth. But Galileo was the first scientist to prove that this wasn’t actually correct, in fact the solar system revolved around the sun. Pretty clever man he was indeed. He also invented an improved telescope so that he could gaze far into space. He was the first to see Jupiter’s moons and then realised that our moon was covered full of craters. He was brilliant, but besides this, his life wasn’t easy.

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Galileo’s Life and Inventions

  •  He was born in Pisa, Italy, on the 15th of February 1564.
  • Besides inventing the improved telescopes, he also invented the compass and a thermometer.
  • Galileo decided that he wanted to be a doctor and started to do a medical degree at the University of Pisa but never finished. He ran out of money, and decided that maths was what he was most interested in.
  • We say he invented the improved telescope but what do we mean? Originally telescopes only had 3 x magnifications, and he built one that had about 30 x magnifications. Wow, that’s a big difference. No wonder he could gaze far off into space.
  • With these telescopes, he could see the skies like they’d never been seen before. In 1610 he saw 4 objects that surrounded Jupiter but he knew they weren’t stars. They actually turned out to be Jupiter’s four largest satellite moons.

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Galileo and Kepler’s Theory

  • No one actually believed him about his discovery and he just couldn’t convince people that he’d found these moons. Every time he discovered something new, people never believed him and they were debated a lot at the time.
  • Galileo would absolutely not believe Kepler’s theory that the moon caused the tides, instead he believed that it was because of how the Earth rotated. So this one was wrong, even super smart people can make mistakes!
  • The Geocentric model of the universe, where Earth was believed to be the centre of the universe, with everything moving around it, was quashed by Galileo’s work along with other scientists. They came up with the heliocentric model. Heliocentric was more accurate and means that everything orbits around the sun. The Catholic Church was not happy at all, as it was so different to their beliefs. They felt so strongly about it that they made him withdraw many of his ideas and put him under house arrest, which meant he was a prisoner in his own home for the rest of his life. That is not cool!

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Galileo – Musician, Teacher, Scientist!

  •  Did you know that he was a very good musician and a brilliant student too!
  • As we said he went to medical school to become a doctor, but wasn’t all that keen on it. From there he went and got a job as a teacher.
  • During his time, there weren’t really scientists as we know them today, they didn’t run tests or experiments to test out their new ideas. But Galileo was different, he wanted to test all the principles and try and see them happening in the real world. He basically started what is now known as the scientific method, test, test and test again.

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Galileo’s Experiments

He decided to run an experiment on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He went to the top and dropped two items that were different weights, but were the same size and shape. He believed that the heavier item would land first, but it didn’t. They both landed at the same time. However, no one really knows if he did this as the only person who really knew was his secretary.

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  • Some people weren’t keen on his experiments at all and wanted all their views to be just as they believed in them. In 1592, he moved the University of Padua, and here he was allowed to experiment and talk about his new ideas. Cool for him.
  • Galileo still carried on writing while he was under house arrest, and later on in life he became blind. He died on January 8, 1642. Poor thing!
  • After Galileo died, the Catholic Church decided that Galileo wasn’t all that bad after all and said that they regretted how he was treated. That was a bit late!
  • A year before his death he came up with a pendulum design, which was used for keeping time.
  • Galileo never got married.
  • The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is currently on exhibition at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy. Not sure we want to see that!

Word Meanings

Revolve – circle around.

Telescope – a device which allows you to see things in the distance really clearly, like stars and moons.

Crater – a large, bowl-shaped hole in the ground or on the surface of a planet.