On this day in science history: 22 June

From the days of ancient technology to modern science - find out what happened on this day in the history of science.

22nd June 2017
Galileo Galilei © Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Galileo Galilei © Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

1633 - Galileo’s “confession”

Galileo Galilei, after writing to his friend Ella Diodati about why the Bible should not be treated as literally true, is forced by the Inquisition to “abjure, curse, and detest.” This occurred 13 years after his observations of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Venus using improved telescope designs he developed from Dutch scientist Hans Lippershey’s initial models.

This was the culmination of a conflict between Galileo and the Catholic Church that had been going on for a few decades. At the heart of this conflict was Galileo’s promotion of the Heliocentric theory of Copernicus that the Earth rotated around the Sun. The Church formally declared this view as heresy in favour of the Geocentric theory, that stated that the planets and stars rotated around the Earth.

Listen: Radio 4's Great Lives on Galileo

1675 - Royal Greenwich observatory founded

The Royal Greenwich Observatory © Plamen Peev/Getty
The Royal Greenwich Observatory © Plamen Peev/Getty

Commissioned by King Charles II, the Royal Greenwich Observatory begins conducting celestial observations that established Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The observatory was solely relied upon for the calculation of the time until 1954.

One of the functions of GMT when it was originally set up was to help ships with their navigation, as international trade was beginning to gain momentum after the discovery of “The New World”, or America. It wasn’t actually until 1880 that the UK parliament to decided to adopt GMT as the official time.

Listen: Science View - The Royal Greenwich Observatory

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