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On a starry night in Padua 400 years ago, Galileo first turned a telescope toward the sky. It might seem the most natural of actions—after all, what else does one do with a telescope? But in 1609, the instrument, which had been invented only the year before by Dutch opticians, was known as a "spyglass," in anticipation of its military uses. The device was also sold as a toy. When Galileo read of it, he quickly set about making a much more powerful version. The Dutch telescopes magnified images by 3 times; Galileo's telescopes magnified them by 8 to 30 times. At the time, astronomy, like much of science, remained under the spell of Aristotle. Almost 2,000 years after his death, the giant of Greek philosophy was held in such high regard that even his most suspect pronouncements were considered unimpeachable. Aristotle had maintained that all celestial objects were perfect and immutable spheres, and that the stars made a dizzying daily journey around the center of the universe, our stationary Earth. Why scrutinize the sky? The system had already been neatly laid out in books. Astronomers "wish never to raise their eyes from those pages," Galileo wrote in frustration, "as if this great book of the universe had been written to be read by nobody but Aristotle, and his eyes had been destined to see for all posterity." In Galileo's day, the study of astronomy was used to maintain and reform the calendar. Sufficiently advanced students of astronomy made horoscopes; the alignment of the stars was believed to influence everything from politics to health.