The Galilean moons are the four moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in January 1610. They are the largest of the many moons of Jupiter and derive their names from the lovers of Zeus: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They are among the most massive objects in the Solar System outside the Sun and the eight planets, with radii larger than any of the dwarf planets. The three inner moons – Ganymede, Europa, and Io – participate in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance.
The four moons were discovered sometime between 1609 and 1610 when Galileo made improvements to his telescope, which enabled him to observe celestial bodies more distinctly than had ever been possible before. Galileo’s discovery showed the importance of the telescope as a tool for astronomers by proving that there were objects in space that cannot be seen by the naked eye. More importantly, the incontrovertible discovery of celestial bodies orbiting something other than the Earth dealt a serious blow to the then-accepted Ptolemaic world system, or the geocentric theory in which everything orbits around the Earth.
Galileo initially named his discovery the Cosmica Sidera ("Cosimo's stars"), but names that eventually prevailed were chosen by Simon Marius. Marius discovered the moons independently at the same time as Galileo, and gave them their present names, which were suggested by Johannes Kepler, in his Mundus Jovialis, published in 1614.
Read more about Galilean Moons: Members, Comparative Structure, Visibility
Famous quotes containing the words galilean and/or moons:
“Last came, and last did go,
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