Galileo (And His Telescope) Can Do The Fandango: Wake-Up Video

In the brief history of Wake-Up Video, there have been an inordinate number of dedications to space exploration. But music and science have often been linked, and why not? The best music should explore new ideas and ask questions, which is exactly what Galileo Galilei was doing on August 25, 1609, when he first showed off his latest creation: a telescope. The Italian scientist had improved upon previous designs that allowed him to observe the solar system. Galileo became the first person to track the phases of Venus, discovered several moons of Jupiter and made the first observations of sunspots. His work wasn't limited to space, either, as his explorations of kinematics lead to the study of modern physics and was one of the first to hit upon an accurate explanation of tides. Like most great thinkers, Galileo was persecuted for his ideas, especially his attachment to the concept of the Earth revolving around the sun (the dominant opinion at the time still held that the Earth was the center of the universe).

Sadly, the musical tributes to Galileo amount to little more than a song by the Indigo Girls and, of course, a legendary reference in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." A most unorthodox hit single, "Bohemian Rhapsody" runs a full six minutes and doesn't have a real chorus, but incidentally made prog rock more palatable for a popular audience. Originally released in 1975, it had a second life in 1991 following Mercury's death and then a third life when it was featured in the feature film "Wayne's World." It's uncertain why Mercury used Galileo's name in his lyrics, but it's a memorable moment nonetheless.

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