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Copernicus and Galileo: Authors of the Moving Earth

A free lecture sponsored by Messiah College Friends of Murray Library and the Central Pennsylvania Forum for Religion and Science

Featured speaker: Dava Sobel, Joan Leiman Jacobson Visiting Non-fiction Writer at Smith College

As friends of libraries well know, books can change minds and even move worlds. Long before Copernicus wrote his revolutionary text, a lost book from antiquity had imagined the Earth in motion. The content of that volume is known today only by another ancient Greek author's summary of it. Copernicus, ignorant of both these predecessors' works, took thirty years to research and write his own version of heavenly motions. Even then, he hesitated to publish his account until a youthful disciple wrote a prequel that paved the way for Copernicus's magnum opus. Decades later, Kepler repeated and supported Copernicus's ideas, and Galileo explicated them with enduring eloquence. But Galileo's attention to Copernicus landed both of them on the Index of Prohibited Books, where their names remained for two hundred years.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013, at 8:00 pm.  Location: Parmer Hall, in The Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts, Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA.  Directions and a campus map are at

Admission is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Donors to the Central PA Forum may request premium seats from Dr. Ted Davis; others should contact the Messiah College Ticket Office: or 717-691-6036.


A former New York Times science reporter, Dava Sobel has also written for Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker. Two of her four books, Longitude (1995) and Galileo’s Daughter (1999), were made into documentaries for PBS and A&E. Her most recent book, A More Perfect Heaven (2011), includes an “interplay” about Copernicus. A frequent guest on NPR, she has spoken at The Smithsonian Institution, The Folger Shakespeare Library, The Royal Geographical Society (London), and the American Academy in Rome. This fall, she begins a two-year appointment as the Joan Leiman Jacobson Writer-in-Residence at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.


The Central Pennsylvania Forum for Religion and Science is based at Messiah College.  For details about all Forum events, please visit or contact Dr. Ted Davis (, 717-766-2511, ext 6840.