In this imagined scene, by an unknown nineteenth-century artist, Galileo reveals his telescope to a group of Venetian lawmakers (including the sitting doge, Leonardo Donato). The date was August 25, 1609.
The Venetians, already known for their glassmaking industry, were likely pleased with Galileo's achievement. They knew that craftsmen in their city could make the glass lenses required for the telescope.
When Galileo turned his new instrument skyward, he saw things no one had previously observed. His discoveries caused people to think very differently about themselves and their world.
Click on the image for a much better view.
Image online, courtesy University of Padua, Department of Astronomy.