Sunday WebQuest: Galileo

Last week, I looked at Canossa and the conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV. This week, let’s look at another struggle between Church and rival, namely science.  Here, we’re going to examine the events of Galileo’s showdown with the Church.

The thing that’s hardest for students to understand is the (1) Geocentric or Ptolemaian model, against the (2) Copernican model.  So my links-list this week concentrated on visuals that would help students understand how this belief worked, and why it persisted. Retrograde motion is hard enough, that they might want a (3) print source as well as video. And this might help explain (4) why Ptolemy’s view persisted so long. Seeing the (5) printed map of the cosmos is useful; remind them how hard it is to question the textbook’s accuracy, just because it’s a printed document


Some students might want to quote from Nicolas Copernicus’s book.  It’s difficult to get to, but they could try (6) his books, published for the first time in English in 1939.  Maybe their parents remember (7) Carl Sagan’s explanation from Cosmos, now available on YouTube.  And (8) this comparison, 47 seconds long, is a great way to see the differences between universal models. Someone has even done (9) a brief animated interview with Galileo. And Bard College has published (10) the complete text of Siderius Nuncius in English — a book that should be required reading before eighth grade.


There’s more which I present below as a bullet list, because there is so much available.  You don’t have to take my top ten links, because there’s at least another twenty or more I couldn’t include here:



Perhaps most importantly, a place where you can buy… not replicas, exactly… but telescopes that do what Galileo’s instrument could do.


All in all, it’s a pretty powerful list this week, and I’m happy to be able to assemble it for everyone.  Go stargazing, everyone, and learn about Galileo! We owe him a lot.

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