Galileo’s telescopic discoveries, and especially his observation of sunspots, caused great debate in an age when the heavens were thought to be perfect and unchanging. Christoph Scheiner, a Jesuit mathematician, argued that sunspots were planets or moons crossing in front of the Sun. Galileo, on the other hand, countered that the spots were on or near the surface of the Sun itself, and he supported his position with a series of meticulous observations and mathematical demonstrations that eventually convinced even his rival.
On Sunspots collects the correspondence that constituted the public debate, including the first English translation of Scheiner’s two tracts as well as Galileo’s three letters, which have previously appeared only in abridged form. In addition, Albert Van Helden and Eileen Reeves have supplemented the correspondence with lengthy introductions, extensive notes, and a bibliography. The result will become the standard work on the subject, essential for students and historians of astronomy, the telescope, and early modern Catholicism.
“This is an excellent addition to the literature on Galileo and, more generally, on the Copernican Revolution. It makes available important works that are relatively inaccessible in their original edition and have never been fully translated into English.”
“This translation is both timely and commendable. Until now, English-speaking students of Galileo and Scheiner have been poorly served. For the first time, readers have access to both sides of this important debate in the same language. This will be an essential text.”