Experimenting with Galileo

  • Dr Stuart Clark demonstrates that what Aristotle was seeing was due to our perceptions of speed

    In 365 BCE Aristotle observed the Moon covering Mars in the night sky, from this he concluded that Mars was further away from the Earth than the Moon. He believed that this proved and supported the Greek sequencing of the planets, where the Sun, Moon and the planets circle the Earth at a fixed distance. However, here with the cast of A Life of Galileo Dr Stuart Clark demonstrates that what Aristotle was seeing was due to our perceptions of speed.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Dr Stuart Clark

    Dr Stuart Clark, who spent the afternoon explaining Galileo's work to the cast of A Life of Galileo.

    Stuart is an academic and writer whose career is devoted to explaining astronomy to the public. This year he published The Sensorium of God, the second of a trilogy of novels inspired by the dramatic struggles, personal and professional, and key historical events in man's quest to understand the universe. It follows The Sky's Dark Labyrinth. Stuart is also a consultant to New Scientist, writes features for the Times, BBC Focus and BBC Sky at Night and is a former editor of Astronomy Now magazine.

  • Youssef Kerkour and Jake Fairbrother

    Youssef Kerkour and Jake Fairbrother look at the idea of an elliptical orbits with Dr Stuart Clark. In 1604 the German Astronomer Kepler, a contemporary of Galileo, calculated that the orbit of the Mars was actually an ellipse, not a circle. Galileo clung to the notion of circular orbits as he still believed all planetary orbits were circular.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • How we know how far away the stars, the planets and the moon are to the Earth

    Susan Momoko Hingley and Siu Hun Li here look at how we know how far away the stars, the planets and the moon are from the Earth.

    Dr Stuart Clark got the actors to hold up a finger several inches in front of their face and focus on something across the room, they closed one eye and notes the position of their finger. Without moving and by closing that eye and opening the other one, they observed their finger moving. Every time they switched eyes, they were seeing their finger from a different angle. As they continued to this, but moved their finger further away it didn't bounce back and forth as much; demonstrating the more distant the object, the less it moves. By using this as a basis scientist can work out using mathematics the distance between the Earth and other objects in the universe.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Youssef Kerkour, Ian Mcdiarmid and Jake Fairbrother

    Youssef Kerkour, Ian Mcdiarmid and Jake Fairbrother from the cast of A Life of Galileo listen to Dr Stuart Clark as he explains some of the early theories of the universe. It was once believed that the stars were holes in the sky which heaven shone through.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Falling bodies

    Dr Stuart Clark spent the afternoon with the cast and creative team of A Life of Galileo to explain the science behind the play using experiments to demonstrate the work of Galileo and his contemporaries. One of Galileo's greatest and most significant discoveries is called 'Falling Bodies', two objects no matter what their differing weights will always fall at the same speed. This was tested on Apollo 17 by the astronaut Dave Scott who took a feather and a hammer to the moon to demonstrate that without air resistance they hit the surface of the moon at exactly the same time.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Explaining how the earth moves, using an apple

    Using an apple, Dr Stuart Clark explains how the Earth moves, spins and orbits. Scientists weren't able to provide proof that the earth moved until the 19th century, when it was discovered by the English astronomer James Bradley.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Ian Mcdiarmid demonstrates the different phases of the moon

    Using a football as a moon and a torch as the sun, actor Ian Mcdiarmid, who plays Galileo, demonstrates the different phases of the moon. What we see of the moon from the Earth depends on the position of the Earth, Moon and the Sun.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Some of the objects used by Dr Stuart Clark to demonstrate Galileo's work

    Some of the objects used by Dr Stuart Clark to demonstrate Galileo's work to the cast of A Life of Galileo.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • The Law of Floating Objects

    Here the cast test Aristotle's theories of floating as Galileo did replicating his experiment 'The Law of Floating Objects', which demonstrated that the previous notion that it was the shape of the object that made it float was false, by using a needle and an ice cube to show it is the density of the object that dictates whether it floats.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Telescopes

    In 1609 Galileo was the first person to observe Mars using a primitive telescope, becoming the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes. However, Galileo did not invent the telescope, it was developed in 1608 in the Netherlands by Lippershey, Janssen and Metius. Galileo took their telescope, making his own improvements to enhance the design.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Lenses

    Dr Stuart Clark used different glass lenses to demonstrate the developments Galileo made to create his telescope.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Nasa images from the Solar storm from Halloween 2003

    The cast of A Life of Galileo look at Nasa images from the Solar storm from Halloween 2003.

    Photo by Gina Print.

  • Ian Mcdiarmid learns more about the work of his character Galileo

    Actor Ian Mcdiarmid learns more about the work of his character Galileo, who worked during a time when it was believed there were five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Quintessence, which was 'heavenly matter' and 'perfection'.

    Photo by Gina Print.

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