Thomas Harriot: First to Map the Moon?
Englishman Thomas Harriot may have beaten Galileo to the punch. According to an article in February’s Astronomy and Geophysics, Harriot may have been the first known person to observe the Moon through a telescope — and, more importantly for us — the first to draw maps of what he saw. One such map is dated July 1609; Galileo’s observations were in December. See coverage from BBC News and the Guardian; see also Bad Astronomy and Space.com. Copies of Harriot’s maps are available through most of these links; go and see. Unlike Galileo, Harriot apparently kept his head down and stayed out of trouble; we remember Galileo not necessarily because he was first to observe, but because he was first to speak about his observations. Sorry, folks: Harriot’s maps are interesting, but he’s still only a footnote.