Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei started an astronomical revolution by using a telescope to (among other things) discover four moons of Jupiter and thus reinforce the heliocentric view of the solar system, removing Earth from the center of the universe. Sadly, it took the Catholic Church nearly that long to forgive him for it.
To commemorate this anniversary, the year 2009 was chosen as the International Year of Astronomy. Physics World reports on several events occurring throughout the year, but leads off with this: “Now, staff at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy, together with the Arcetri Observatory, also in Florence, have built a replica of one of Galileo’s telescopes and are using it to generate the images that, to the best of their estimations, Galileo himself would have seen.” It’s an interesting discussion of the efforts to reproduce the lenses and observational conditions Galileo would have had available.
He was completely blind by 1638 and probably suffered vision problems long before that. In what I consider an excessive desire for accuracy the museum wants to retrieve DNA from his body to figure out what these problems were. So far the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Florence has resisted. Yay for them.