I'll be honest, I bailed on the historic Solstice lunar eclipse last night. I have a good excuse. It was cloudy in Minneapolis when I went to bed, and likely to remain that way. Getting up in the middle of the night to stare at cloud cover is not exactly thrilling. Sure, a winter Solstice lunar eclipse hadn't happened in the Northern Hemisphere since 1638. Ah, well. Come the Singularity, I'll hit the next one.
Speaking of the 1600s, though, check out these beautiful drawings of the phases of the moon. They're thought to be the handiwork of Galileo, himself. And, while they look pretty basic, these pictures actually represent some big, scary risk-taking. According to Thomas Christensen—author of an upcoming book on the 17th-century beginnings of modern science—these simple, detailed sketches were seen as an affront to the Catholic Church.
It was a shock and an affront to suggest that God's heavenly objects were not perfect but pocked and roughened with craters and protuberances like some ordinary rock of the earthly realm. This would all come to a head when Galileo visited the pope in 1616 .
Thanks to cairosam for Submitterating!
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.