Galileo Galilei's workshop

Galileo Galilei's workshop

Galileo Galilei's scientific achievements contributed greatly to the advancement of physics and astronomy.



Galileo Galilei, workshop, invention, inventions, telescope, compass, microscope, Earth globe, thermometer, physicist, physics, astronomy, astronomer, mathematics, mathematician, Italy, polymath, Padua, Jupiter, moons of Jupiter, lens, modern history, Pisa, history

Related items


  • When did Galileo Galilei live and work?
  • What was Galileo Galilei's nationality?
  • The moons of which planet were discovered by Galilei?
  • What did Galileo Galilei NOT observe with his telescope?
  • Which was not Galileo Galilei's field of research?
  • In which field did Galileo not make his mark?
  • Which of these is not one of the four Galilean moons?
  • In which town was Galileo Galilei born?
  • Where was Galileo Galilei buried?
  • Which of these was a contemporary of Galileo Galilei?
  • Which of these was NOT a contemporary of Galileo Galilei?
  • By which institution was Galileo taken to court?
  • Is it true that after his condemnation Galileo spent the remaining years of his life under house arrest?
  • Is it true that after the trial, Galileo was burnt at the stake?
  • Which view was Galileo forbidden to spread after the trial?
  • Who was the first to formulate the heliocentric world view?
  • What did Galileo call the instrument that is now known as 'microscope'?
  • Which concept constitutes the key to the operation of Galileo's thermometer?
  • According to legend, which building was the venue of one of Galileo's experiments?
  • According to legend, which sentence, which later became a maxim, did Galileo murmur during the trial?
  • According to Galileo's law of falling bodies, what is the distance travelled by a falling body proportional to?
  • In which year did the Pope vindicate Galileo?
  • Is it true that Galileo was the first to invent the telescope?
  • Is it true that Galileo's sector was also used for military purposes?


Galileo Galilei's workshop

Galileo Galilei was an Italian polymath who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. His fields of research included physics, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. His observations were based on experiments and measurements, therefore he is often called the 'father of modern science'

He was the first to purposefully use telescopes to observe astronomical objects and phenomena. As an inventor, he has enriched universal science with numerous valuable instruments.

Originally he studied medicine at the University of Pisa, but he had to interrupt his studies, for financial reasons. Meanwhile, his interest turned to mathematics and natural philosophy.

Galileo studied the works of Archimedes and Aristotle. Similarly to his contemporaries, Galileo's early writings reflected the scientific approach of Aristotle, although the results of even his earliest experiments contradicted some parts of Aristotle's theory of physics. Later he became professor at the University of Padua, where he taught astronomy, geometry and mechanics for 18 years. Besides teaching, he was constantly experimenting as well.


  • telescope
  • books and scrolls
  • inclined plane
  • microscope
  • globe
  • sector
  • thermometer


  • occhialino ('little eyeglass') - This is how Galileo named his instrument. The term 'microscope' probably originates from Johannes Faber.
  • tripod - It is made of iron.

Galileo’s microscope was made of wood, cardboard and leather, and it was mounted on an iron tripod. The outside of the occhialino ('little eyeglass'), as Galileo called it, was covered by green vellum with gold decorations. The name 'microscope' (microscopio) was given by Johannes Faber.

The microscope contained three lenses: an objective, a field lens and an eyepiece. The objective was 3.5 mm thick and 11 mm in diameter, while the field lens was somewhat larger, 4.7 mm thick and 30 mm in diameter.

Even though Galileo was for a long time believed to have invented the microscope, it is now attributed rather to Giuseppe Campani.


  • pivot - Numerical scales are engraved on both of its sides. The string of the suspended weight is attached to it.
  • arms - There are numerical scales engraved in them.
  • quadrant - It is located between the arms and has numerical scales engraved on it.
  • suspended weight - It is a weight suspended from a string which ensures that the instrument is vertical.
  • clamp - It is fastened to one of the arms. It keeps the instrument in a vertical position and can serve as an extension of the arm to which it is attached.

Galileo built numerous sectors (military and geometric compasses) after 1597. The sector shown in this animation was probably made for Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany. This instrument, which was designed for geometric, astronomic and military purposes, allowed him to perform precise geometric and arithmetic calculations.

The instrument consisted of four parts. There were two rulers, that is, arms with various scales engraved on them. In addition, a clamp was attached to one of the arms which kept the sector in a vertical position and allowed that arm to be extended. The ends of the arms were fixed to a disc-shaped pivot with a plumb line attached to it. This plumb line always showed the vertical direction, thus, together with the quadrant with scales, also located between the arms, it was used to measure angles.


  • part filled with air - Space necessary in case liquid dilates.
  • sealed glass cylinders
  • transparent liquid
  • floating bulbs - Small glass vessels with different densities.

Galileo discovered that the density of a liquid changes when its temperature changes. Based on this principle, a group of Florentine scientists that included Vincenzo Viviani, a student of Galileo's, invented an instrument today known as the Galilean thermometer.

Galilean thermometers are transparent, sealed glass tubes that contain a clear liquid and floating glass bulbs. The vertical movement of these bulbs indicates a temperature change. When the outside temperature decreases, the bulbs rise, and when the temperature raises, the bulbs sink. This is because a temperature change results in a change in the density of liquid, which, in turn, causes the buoyant force acting on the bulbs to change.


  • eyepiece frame
  • red leather casing
  • gold decoration
  • objective frame

Galileo designed and made a number of telescopes. The one shown in the animation is a wooden telescope covered in red leather with gold decoration.

The eyepiece and the objective lens were housed in separate wooden tubes that were attached at the ends of the telescope. The objective lens was plano-convex (one surface flat and the other convex), 37 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick at its centre. The telescope had an aperture of 15 mm and a focal length of 980 mm. The original eyepiece got lost and was replaced by a biconcave lens in the 19th century.

Galileo also designed some useful accessories for his telescopes with the help of which he could observe sunspots and measure the distance between Jupiter and its biggest moons (today called Galilean moons).

The modern name of this instrument was coined from the Greek words tele ('far') and skopein ('to look') either by Giovanni Demisiani, a Greek mathematician, or Federico Angelo Cesi, an Italian scientist, both members of the Accademia dei Lincei (together with Galileo).

Inclined plane

  • pendulum - It is attached to the top end of the inclined plane.
  • bells - There are five bells along the inclined plane, spaced at proportionally increasing intervals.
  • buffer

Galileo also built inclined planes similar to the 19th-century model shown in the animation, that were made of wood, iron and copper. It was equipped with five bells, and a pendulum hung from its top. This instrument can be used to demonstrate several laws of physics.

Galileo conducted numerous experiments with balls rolling down an inclined plane. He discovered that these balls gain speed regardless of their weight. He stated that if an object is released from rest and its acceleration is constant, then the total distance it travels is proportional to the square of the time it needs for that travel.

There were bells placed along the inclined plane, with their distance measured from the top in compliance with this law, so the ball rolling down from the top hit the bells at equal intervals of time.

When experimenting with the pendulum, he observed that the period of the pendulum was independent of the amplitude and it depended solely on the length of the pendulum. However, he wrongly assumed that the period was constant, as this is true only when the amplitude is low.


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