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Nations the world over are celebrating 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, marking Galileo's first scientific use of the telescope 400 years ago.
Galileo is one of the greatest scientists in history. Albert Einstein called Galileo "the father of modern physics indeed of modern science altogether," because Galileo realised, and made the rest of the scientific world realise, that "all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it."

Galileo also is legendary for being condemned as a religious heretic for teaching science that clashed with church doctrine.

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When Galileo Galilei used a new invention called the telescope to watch the heavens, he revolutionised astronomy. But his estimates of the distances to the stars were thousand of times too short.
A scientist has now taken a closer look at Galileo's seventeenth century results in an attempt to explain why the estimates were so far off the mark1. Christopher Graney, a physicist at Jefferson Community College in Louisville, Kentucky, argues in a paper posted to the preprint server arXiv that Galileo was tricked by a phenomenon that was only really understood two centuries later diffraction.

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