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Belisario Vinta


Belisario Vinta was born in Volterra and became a Florentine citizen in 1579. He began a brilliant political career and held numerous offices, attaining the highest rank of First Secretary of State of the Grand Duchy. In this capacity he met Galileo during his teaching years at Padua and personally managed the negotiations which brought Galileo back to Tuscany after his astronomical discoveries. To Belisario Vinta goes the credit for choosing to call the moons of Jupiter the Medicean Planets and not, as Galileo had proposed, the Cosmic Planets after the name of Grand Duke Cosimo II (1590-1621). In a letter of February 10, 1610 Vinta wrote to Galileo: "[...] Your idea of naming the new planets you have discovered after His Highness is generous and heroic and in keeping with the your unique and wonderful genius. And since you have done me the honor of asking my opinion about what name to give to these planets, whether the Cosmic or the Medicean Stars, I openly state my feeling that the latter will be more appealing, in so far as the Greek word Cosmic can be taken in various ways and would perhaps not be wholly attributed by all to the glory of the royal name of the Medici Dynasty and their city-state of Florence, as would necessarily be the case of the name Medicean Stars. And so I firmly hold to the latter".

Belisario Vinta died in 1613 and was substituted by Curzio Picchena (1553-1626).