Galileo's Systema Cosmicum comes into Heritage's orbit

Galileo's Systema Cosmicum is a dialogue between unevenly matched parties. Having been initially forbidden from discussing Copernican theories by the papacy, Galileo was told by the new pope, Urban VIII, that he could discuss them provided that he provided equal argument for opposing theories.

Galileo's efforts presented advocates of Ptolemaic, Copernican and Aristotelian views along with an educated layman as an interlocutor. Pope Urban VIII was incensed, however, as he not only felt that Galileo was clearly endorsing Copernicus, but that the text jibed at Urban himself.

Galileo was arrested and ordered to renounce all Copernican views. Now a rare first edition copy of this 'biased' dialogue has come up for sale at Heritage. The book, with attractive leather binding, is in very good, attractive condition.

Interest in Galileo has not waned in recent times. Some of his first telescope observations sold for $122,000 at a Sotheby's auction in December, whilst one of his telescopes - though not on the market - would be expected to fetch $3m.

Bidding in the internet section of Heritage's auction starts on January 25, and ends February 12 with a live auction.


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