Mystery Behind Galileo's Visual Illusion Discovered

Why was it that when Galileo viewed Venus and Jupiter with the naked eye, Venus, the brighter planet, appeared larger, but when viewed through a telescope, Jupiter appeared larger?

Happy birthday, Galileo!


Why was it that when the Italian astronomer viewed Venus and Jupiter with the naked eye, Venus, the brighter planet, appeared larger, but when viewed through a telescope, Jupiter appeared larger?

This stumped Galileo, who thought the "irradiation illusion" might be caused by the human eye. According to a recent study by SUNY's Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the illusion is caused by the distortion of light-sensitive neurons.

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