The greatest scandal of Christendom?

As part of the International Year of Astronomy, UNSW is presenting The Re-Trial of Galileo featuring a high-profile cast, along with a public lecture by the world's foremost Galileo scholar.

For many it was the greatest scandal of Christendom. In 1633 the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo as a heretic for challenging the biblical doctrine that the Earth stands still at the centre of the universe.

As part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, UNSW's School of History and Philosophy is presenting The Re-Trial of Galileo on Monday 26 October (6.30pm, Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW).

Join a high-profile cast including Julian Burnside, Anna Katzmann, Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Monsignor Tony Doherty, Geraldine Doogue, Professor Maurice Finocchiaro, Julie McCrossin, Alan Saunders, Fred Watson and Robyn Williams in a made-for-television production, retrying one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment.

"This is not a reenactment of the Inquisition hearing; it's a modern-day trial in which we reopen the case," said event creator Dr Peter Slezak, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The improvisation will be conducted with a judge, jury and counsels for defence and prosecution.

"The original 'Galileo Affair' of the 17th century gave rise to an intense debate that continues today among scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians. Central to this has been the question of whether the original condemnation of Galileo was right or wrong.

"The Re-Trial of Galileo aims to both intellectually engage and entertain the public. The issues are much more complex than the usual stereotypes would have us believe - the outcome of the trial is far from being a foregone conclusion," he said.

The production is based on an annual mock-trial developed by Dr Slezak for students studying a course on the Galileo Affair in the School of History and Philosophy.

Current participants include:

• Fred Watson, Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory - Galileo
• Julian Burnside QC - Counsel for the Defence
• Bob Carr, former NSW Premier - Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de Medici II
• Robyn Williams, ABC Radio National, Science Show - Johannes Kepler
• Alan Saunders, ABC Radio National, The Philosophers' Zone - Aristotelian Philosopher
• Dr Maurice Finocchiaro, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, University of Nevada, USA as himself
• Paul Collins - Cardinal Robert Bellarmine
• Charlie Lineweaver - Clavius
• Julie McCrossin - Judge
• Monsignor Tony Doherty - Pope Urban VIII
• Anna Katzmann SC - Counsel for the Prosecution

The free production is now booked out - to be placed on a waiting list please contact The trial is being filmed by ABC TV's Compass Program for broadcast as an hour-long special in early 2010.

Free Public Lecture - The Galileo Affair: 1609-2009

In the lead up to next week's production, the world's foremost Galileo scholar, Professor Maurice A Finocchiaro, from the Univeristy of Nevada, will deliver a free public lecture at UNSW this Thursday 22 October (6-7pm, Central Lecture Block 8, Main Campus). Booking essential: Contact: Rebecca Straker on 9385 8512.

More information: The Re-Trial of Galileo

Media contact: Denise Knight, UNSW Media Office | 9385 8920 | 0405 207 685