You are here: Science > Great scientists > Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

A portrait of Galileo The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) is best remembered as an astronomer. His insistence that the Earth was not at the centre of the Universe and that, along with other planets, it orbits the Sun, brought him into conflict with the Catholic Church, because it challenged the biblical story of creation. Galileo was also a pioneer in the study of gravity and motion. Unlike many earlier scientists, Galileo based his theories on observation and experimentation—and making detailed records of his work—rather than on traditional beliefs. For this he is known as the Father of Modern Science.

Galileo exhausted his teachers by asking many questions—sometimes too many.

Career and family

Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, central Italy, on 15th February 1564, during the Renaissance, a time when the arts and sciences flourished. The son of a professional musician, Vincenzo Galilei, he had a talent for music as well as being a writer and an artist. Galileo was educated at the Camaldolese Monastery in Vallombrosa, near Florence, before enrolling at the University of Pisa. He initially planned to train in medicine, later deciding to study mathematics and physics. In 1589, he was appointed to the chair of mathematics in Pisa. Three years later, he moved to the University of Padua. In 1610, Galileo became mathematician and philosopher to Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Galileo found that, by looking at an object close-up through a telescope the "wrong" way, he could see an enlarged image. He went on to invent the first compound microscope, a microscope that has more than one lens.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer