Giorgio Abetti (1882 - 1982)

Giorgio Abetti was director of the observatory of Arcetri since 1922 till 1952: so he took his father Antonio's place, who directed the observatory since 1893 till 1921.

He performed many searches of solar physics, about which he wrote several books.

Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657 - 1757)

Literate and remarkable figure of the French science, he is considered a precursor of the Enlightenment. Known for his activity of philosophical and scientific popularization, he was a member of the Académie Française and he supported the Cartesian rationalism: he was perpetual secretary of the Académie des Sciences, of which he wrote a monumental history in 42 volumes.

In 1686 he published the Conversations about worlds plurality, characterized by a bright and witty style: the author imagines to entertain agreeably a gentlewoman about the big astronomic discoveries of the century, supporting the Copernican theory and admitting the life on other planets.

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)

Italian physicist, mathematician and astronomer, he can be considered one of the greatest scientists of every time. To look at the sky, he was the first man to use a telescope, that allowed him to realize some important observations: he discovered the four great satellites of Jupiter, he analyzed the sunspots and he studied the lunar reliefs.

Firmly contrary to accept the principle of authority that imposed to accept uncritically as true the positions of the ancient philosophers and the holy writings, Galileo was a convinced supporter of the independence of science from faith, as it emerges also from a letter that he wrote to Christine of Lorraine in 1615.

In the Dialogue about the two greatest world systems, published in 1632, he took sides in favor of the Copernican model and of the new scientific theories against the ancient Aristotelian doctrines. Therefore he was tried and condemned by the inquisition: he abjured to avoid life inprisonment.

Joseph Glanvill (1636 - 1680)

English puritanical philosopher, educated at Oxford, he was court chaplain of Charles II since 1672. Great admirer of Bacon and Descartes, he was keen on experimental philosophy and supported the Cartesian mechanism and the empiricism of Locke.

One of his principal works is Plus Ultra: or the Progress and Advancement of Knowledge since the Days of Aristotle, in which, among the other things, he talks of the telescope in an enthusiastic tone.

Carl Edward Sagan (1934 - 1996)

Astronomer and researcher of the planetary atmospheres, he participated in the searches on the origin of the signals coming from space and he formulated some interesting hypotheses on the origin of life on the Earth.

The public knows him as a skilled writer: as scientific popularizer (Cosmos, 1980) and as novelist (Contact, 1985).

Clyde Tombaugh (1906 - 1997)

American astronomer, in February 18th 1930 he discovered the planet Pluto by comparing some photos of the same region of the sky (in the constellation of Gemini).

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