Considered the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
made major contributions to the fields of physics, astronomy, cosmology,
mathematics and philosophy. He invented an improved telescope that let him
observe and describe the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus, sunspots and the rugged lunar surface.
Galileo’s flair for self-promotion earned him powerful friends among Italy’s ruling elite and enemies among the Catholic Church’s leaders. His advocacy of a heliocentric universe brought him before religious authorities in 1616 and again in 1633, when he was forced to recant and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.