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Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens

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Nova is repeating Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens Tuesday on most PBS stations (check local listings). I wrote this when it originally aired nearly a year ago.

The documentary is based on Dava Sobel’s excellent book Galileo’s Daughter. Sobel and others are interviewed. Rather than having Ken Burns style voices readings texts, Simon Callow actually plays Galileo which gives more life to the story of his clash with the Catholic Church.

While only excerpts from the letters of Galileo’s daughter Maria Celeste who was a nun are read in the documentary, the full text are online (though Sobel’s book puts them into context). The website for the documentary also has a lot of information including an article by Sobel.

The text of Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems and Dialogue on Two New Sciences are online.

In 1998, Nova did a similar adaptation of Sobel’s book Longitude (which was also made into an A&E movie).

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