In 1609, when Galileo Galilei fashioned a telescope and looked to the heavens, he was the first to see that the surface of our moon is filled with craters, mountains and other imperfections. He also saw countless stars filling every inch of the sky and noticed moons circling Jupiter—all previously unseen by any human. He published these revelations in a book called "Siderius nuncius" or "The Starry Messenger." This thin volume would help shift the world away from an earth-centered view of the heavens and start the revolution called modern science.
For the first time, a full-color facsimile of the work, along with related material, has been reprinted in "The Starry Messenger, Venice 1610: ‘From Doubt to Astonishment,’" published by Levenger Press in association with the Library of Congress. The facsimile is based on the Library’s untrimmed copy—one of the most complete copies in existence—which was purchased in 2008.
In 2010, the Library held a symposium to celebrate the 400th anniversary of this groundbreaking publication. Six leading Galileo scholars—Owen Gingerich, John W. Hessler, Peter Machamer, David Marshall Miller, Paul Needham, and Eileen Reeves—spoke at the symposium. Their essays, reprinted here, address the monumental impact of Galileo’s discoveries during his time and ours. Also included is the definitive translation by Albert Van Helden along with a biographical index of the friends and foes in Galileo’s universe. Printed on archival-quality paper, this volume will make a beautiful and useful addition to any collection.
The book’s editors, Daniel De Simone and John W. Hessler, will discuss the book at the National Book Festival at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22 in the Special Programs pavilion on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., followed by a book-signing at 4:30 p.m. De Simone is curator of the Library’s Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection and Hessler is curator of its Jay I. Kislak Collection. Both collections are housed in the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
"The Starry Messenger, Venice 1610: ‘From Doubt to Astonishment,’" a 224-page hardcover book with illustrations, is available for $79 exclusively from Levenger (www.levenger.com (external link) or 800-544-0880) and in the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, publications, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.