December 16, 2023 – March 17, 2024

Monumental Complex of Santa Maria Novella Firenze, Piazza Stazione 6

Celestial splendors

Curated by Filippo Camerota.
Organised by Museo Galileo in collaboration with EGO-European
Gravitational Observatory with the support of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Unicoop Firenze.
Locandina della mostra
Discorso delle comete di Mario Guiducci
The exhibition is organised under the patronage of the City of Florence and the National Committee for the celebrations of the 4th centenary of the election of Pope Urban VIII, and is part of the official program of the 2023 Italian National Space Day.

The exhibition represents one of the main initiatives organised to celebrate the 400 th anniversary of the publication of Galileo Galilei’s Saggiatore, the book that laid the foundations of the modern concept of science based on observation and experimentation. Supported and published by the Academy of Lincei—and offered as an auspicious gift to the newly elected Pope Urban VIII—Il Saggiatore stems from a dispute on the origin of comets between Galileo and the Jesuit Orazio Grassi. Galileo implacably refuted the basis of the scholastic philosophy on which the Jesuit’s thesis was founded, and counter it with his idea of the nature as grounded in rigorous mathematical principles.

The “celestial splendours,” as we read in the Academy of Lincei’s dedication to Pope Urban VIII, are the comets and, by extension, the new worlds that Galileo’s telescope made it possible to see for the first time in the history of mankind: the mountains of the Moon, the sunspots, the phases of Venus, Jupiter’s satellites, and the infinite stars of the Milky Way. A new look of the universe destined to radically change the geocentric cosmological conception in favour of the Copernican hypothesis.


Monumental Complex of Santa Maria Novella
Piazza Stazione 6, Firenze

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:30 am -5:30 pm
December 25, 2023 and January 1, 2024: 1:00 pm -5:30 pm

Full price ticket € 5,00

Reduced price ticket € 3,00

  • - groups min. 15 people
  • - visitors aged 6 to 18
  • - holders of a Museo Galileo entrance ticket
  • - Unicoop Firenze members
  • Online Ticket Office

Free admission

    • - children under 6
    • - holders of a Monumental Complex of Santa Maria Novella entrance ticket
    • - teachers accompanying school groups
    • - ICOM members
    • - official tour guides and interpreters on duty
    • - journalists with current ID
    • - disabled visitors and accompanying persons

Info: tel. +39 055 2989851


Libra astronomica ac philosophica

Orazio Grassi

Perugia 1619

Published under the pseudonym Lotario Sarsi, Jesuit Grassi’s work on comets was implacably refuted by Galileo in his Saggiatore (The Assayer).

Il Saggiatore

Galileo Galilei

Rome 1623

Written by Galileo in response to Orazio Grassi’s Libra astronomica, Il Saggiatore (The Assayer) is regarded as the book that laid the foundations of the modern concept of science based on observation and experimentation.

Multimedia installation

Studio camerAnebbia


The “Pillars of Creation”


Clouds of gas and dust photographed by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Seki’s nested magic square

Charles Ross

2008, Bologna, Private collection

This artwork—a life-size reproduction of which is on display—is part of a series of images created in New Mexico by positioning some white wooden panels under a giant magnifying glass. The resulting images constitute a portrait of solar light drawn by the Sun itself, which evoked the different environmental and celestial conditions in which they were produced.

Theatre Andromeda

Lorenzo Reina

The Theatre was built in 1984 on the hills overlooking the Sicilian village of Santo Stefano Quisquina (AG) after Reina—who was then a shepherd in the high pastures—became enchanted while gazing at the 108 visible stars of the Constellation Andromeda. After various interventions, the current form of Theatre Andromeda was completed on March 19, 2023.

Exhibition description


The exhibition adopts an innovative approach to narrate Galileo’s revolutionary concept of science as well as his fundamental discoveries in order to engage visitors of all ages. To this purpose, Galileo’s telescopic observations are turned into spectacular experiences by means of immersive installations which will convey the emotion of discovery. Through the lenses, the sky comes closer but at the same time larger. The visual exploration of space that started with Galileo continues today through the eye of satellites and the great space telescopes, Hubble and James Webb. The images captured by space telescopes close the picture of the great adventure that began with Galileo’s telescope. The final section of the exhibition is dedicated to three astronomical observatories built by contemporary artists—Hannsjörg Voth, Charles Ross and Lorenzo Reina—who have designed architectures to transform sky observation into an aesthetic and sensorial experience.

Exhibition path

The exhibition consists of six parts:

  1. News from the Heavens
  2. The comets
  3. Il Saggiatore: A “Discourse on Method”
  4. The World Systems
  5. Beyond the Visible: The Exploration of Deep Space
  6. The Heavens as a Work of Art: The Aesthetic Dimension of Astronomical Observation



to gravitational waves
Osservazione delle fasi di Venere

Exhibition trailer

Italian/English exhibition catalogue co-published by Edizioni Museo Galileo and Sillabe € 24.00
Digital Library (Italian Only)

The comet debate of 1618