The Legacy of Clavius: Giovanni Paolo Lembo's Reaction to Galileo's Celestial Novelties (1610-15)


Prof. Carolino, Luís Miguel (ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)


In the last edition of his Commentarius in sphaeram Ioannis de Sacrobosco, published in 1611, Christoph Clavius urged astronomers to work out an astronomical solution that integrated the ground-breaking Galilean novelties of 1610. As the Collegio Romano mathematics professor stated, « since this is so, astronomers ought to see how the celestial orbs may be arranged in order to save the phenomena ». What was the real meaning of Clavius’s plea? This paper approaches this question by analysing the astronomical work of the Jesuit Giovanni Paolo Lembo. In addition to being an accomplished telescope maker and astronomical observer, having played a crucial role in the telescopic observations carried out at the Collegio Romano between 1610 and 1611, Lembo was one of the closest collaborators of Clavius and an advocate of his astronomical ideas. Shortly after Clavius passed away, Lembo set forth a geo-heliocentric system of Capellan inspiration that came to terms with the Galilean novelties (and particularly with the phases of Venus and Mercury) while simultaneously retaining intact the foundations of Clavius’s astronomical and cosmological ideas.

James M. Lattis, Between Copernicus and Galileo. Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology, Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, 1994.
Michel-Pierre Lerner, "L’entrée de Tycho Brahe chez les jésuites ou le chant du cygne de Clavius", in Luce Giard (ed.), Les Jésuites à la Renaissance. Système éducatif et production du savoir, Paris, Presses Unversitaires de France, 1995, pp. 145-185.
Eileen Reeves and Albert van Helden, "Verifying Galileo’s Discoveries: Telescope-making at the Collegio Romano" in Jürgen Hamel and Inge Keil (eds.), Der Meister und die Fernrohre: das Wechselspiel zwischen Astronomie und Optik in der Geschichte, Frankfurt am Main, H. Deutsch, 2007, 127-141.

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Prof. Carolino, Luís Miguel (ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)

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