The Discovery of Sunspots

Christoph Scheiner (his projecting telescope is shown to the left) first saw sunspots in March , 1611. He was rebuffed for contradicting Aristotle. His superior proclaimed , " I have read Aristotle's writings from beggining to end, and I can assure you that I have nowhere found in them anything similar to what you mention; ... be assured that what you take for spots in the Sun are the faults of your glasses or your eyes" In the dominant Aristotelian cosmology, the heavens were thought to be perfect and unchanging. A spot that comes and goes on the Sun would mean that there is change in the heavens. Given this theoretical predisposition, the difficulty of observing the Sun, and the cyclic nature of spots, it is little wonder that records of sunspots are almost non-existent in Europe before the seventeenth century.