Galileo's own llustrations of the Moon’s surface as he saw it through his telescope have come to light after four centuries and were unveiled this week at Padua University. The five watercolours , showing the Moon with ochre highlighting of its craters and valleys are in Galileo’s own copy of Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger) , helped overturn the belief that the Sun revolved around the Earth ,and provoked a show-down with the Vatican that saw the scientist imprisoned for heresy. They do not feature in any other copy of the book.
They were authenticated by Professor Horst Bredekamp, head of the Art History Institute at Humboldt University in Berlin, and Professor William R. Shea, who holds the Galileo Chair of the History of Science at Padua.
“I initially suspected that they were forgeries" Bredekamp said. “But when I realised after close examination and tests that they were authentic, I was overcome with emotion.” Shea said that he had been contacted by Richard Lan, an art dealer in New York, for help in authenticating the book, which was published in Venice in 1610. Mr Lan would only say that it had turned up in a collection in South America.