NASA, Galileo Galilei…and Artviva

View of Italy from ISS (photo by NASA)

It is well-known that Italy is breathtakingly stunning.  From the wine region in Tuscany, the fabulous Florence finesse, the enchanting canals of Venice, the romantic Roman ruins, the cluster of the stunning villages comprising the Cinque Terre and beyond, Italy is gorgeous.


But there is yet another angle to Italy’s beauty.


Colin Maybury, President of the Astronomical Society of the Hunter Region, Australia (and grandfather of an Artviva staff member) has sent us this image that shows Italy from a whole new light (or darkness, as the case may be).

He explains, ‘The shot of Italy was taken from the newly installed cupola on the International Space Station (ISS) as it flew North to South across the Mediterranean. It was a shot looking back to that most interesting leg and high-heeled shoe kicking poor old Sicily.  The ISS at the time would be travelling across the Earth at 25,000 kms/hr.’


The International Space Stations has 25 people aboard. Cramped living conditions are clearly made up for by the stunning views over Earth and beyond (way, way beyond!).


Tuscany’s most famous astronomer is undoubtedly the most famous astronomer in history – Galileo Galilei. His complete name, Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei , whilst being exceedingly long, is nothing compared to the long list of his achievements.


Astronomer, but also physicist, philosopher and mathematician, Galileo was threatened with his life under the Inquisition for some of his then-considered blasphemous discoveries.


Galileo was working in an era where many discoveries then-considered leaps and bounds ahead have been rendered to being mere millimeters in terms of progress in the context of scientific advancement. However a great amount of Galileo’s work is still being taught in schools to this day, so advanced and accurate were his findings.


Born on 15th February 1564 and living until the age of 77 until his death on 8th January 1642, Galileo was born in Pisa but moved to Florence after 8 years. Having worked as an art teacher, before giving instruction on mathematics, then geometry and mechanics, as well as astronomy, Galileo made several significant discoveries in each field.


With Albert Einstein declaring Galileo as the father of modern science, and Stephen Hawking declaring his efforts to be the most significant to the birth of modern science, many of his main discoveries are now being housed in the Galileo Museum of Florence.


Formerly the Museo di Storia della Scienza, the building itself dates back to the late 11th century.


‘The Medici Collections of mathematical and astronomical instruments by great Italian and foreign instrument-makers’ are housed on the first floor, with the Lorraine Collections being on the next floor. The exhibit, ‘Gelileo’s Telescope: the instrument that changed the world’ is presently on until Spring 2011.


You can also visit the Galileo Museum’s website.


Artviva can also offers a private, guided tour of the Galileo Museum in Artviva’s My Exclusive Galileo Galilei Science Museum Tour.


If you’d like to see Florence on a more grounded level, we also have small-group walking tours of Florence’s historical centre, which is also available as a private Florence Walking Tour.


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