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A Bigger Picture Unfolds

  • Peter Grego
  • David Mannion
Chapter
Part of the Astronomers' Universe book series (ASTRONOM)

Abstract

Galileo’s small telescope showed that the Milky Way was composed of a multitude of stars that were too faint to be resolved individually with the unaided eye. Unlike the planets, which when magnified through a telescope displayed a small but distinct disk, the stars remained as point-like objects. This, along with the fact that the stars displayed no discernable parallax through the instruments in use in the seventeenth century, suggested that the stars were at a truly unimaginable distance from the Solar System. French philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) conveys a vivid sense of the human reaction to this new-found scale of the Universe when in his Pensées (Thoughts, 1670) he writes of a man without God: “engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant and which know me not… The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”

Keywords

Solar System Cosmic Microwave Background Spiral Nebula Star Cluster Planetary Nebula 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CornwallUK
  2. 2.KentUK

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