Vatican joins in honoring Galileo
ROME — Four hundred years after Galileo Galilei first demonstrated his telescope to scholars on a Roman hilltop, the astronomer who was condemned by the Catholic Church was celebrated on the same spot with a multimedia art exhibit that included an installation from the Vatican.
Heliographs, astrolabes, and other antique astrological instruments that belong to the Vatican Observatory stood alongside contemporary art inspired by Galileo and his science: rows of intensely hot, blindingly bright floodlights simulating the sun; a performance by a Tibetan musician playing a telescope-like horn.
The event took place Thursday at the American Academy in Rome, a research center for the arts and humanities whose gardens lie on the spot where, on the night of April 14, 1611, Galileo showed off his telescope for the first time to the most important scholars of his time.
Galileo made the first complete astronomical telescope and used it to gather evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun.