An Impressive Galileo Forgery Is the Subject of a New PBS Doc

What if you found out that a one-of-a-kind book by Galileo was actually a fake. That’s what happened when a copy of Sidereus Nuncius, written in 1610 by the famous astronomer, was discovered to be an act of forgery. Sidereus Nuncius was the first book of its kind to show the lunar surface as mountainous and also contained observations of the four satellites orbiting Jupiter. These findings were vital in disproving the heliocentric view of the Earth that many had up until that point.     What made this copy so special was that it featured not only Galileo’s signature, …

Book Culture

What if you found out that a one-of-a-kind book by Galileo was actually a fake. That’s what happened when a copy of Sidereus Nuncius, written in 1610 by the famous astronomer, was discovered to be an act of forgery.

Sidereus Nuncius was the first book of its kind to show the lunar surface as mountainous and also contained observations of the four satellites orbiting Jupiter. These findings were vital in disproving the heliocentric view of the Earth that many had up until that point.

 

Image Via Smithsonian Libraries

 

What made this copy so special was that it featured not only Galileo’s signature, but also a stamp from the library of Rome’s Lincean Academy. When it was discovered, the authenticity was immediately put into question. Galileo scholars were quick to discover some irregularities with the book, such as the paper not having the feel of 17th century work to the stamp not looking authentic.

Eventually, a man was arrested on suspicion of stealing and selling books from Girolamini Library in Naples, and it was discovered that he was connected to the forged book.

 

All of this is explored in a new documentary Galileo’s Moon, which airs on PBS tonight at 8pm.

 

Read more about the full story here.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via L’ltalo-Americano