History of Telescopes

What are Telescopes

History of Telescopes

Tips On Using Telescopes

Frequently Asked Questions


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History of Telescopes

The history of telescope sparkles with different names that eventually lead us to the present day telescope with ultra-modern features. History reveals that the first telescope could have been the Assyrian lens that was made using crystal. While discovery of the Visby lenses leads us to believe that the Arabs and Persians were acquainted with the technology way back in the 10th century. There is also an archaeological evidence of Visby lenses being discovered in Gotlandia in Sweden. These Visby lenses are dated to the second half of the 11th century. The lenses have been associated with different ideas like pendants, loupes and also components from an ancient telescope. Speculations also give way to the possibility that it was imported from the Middle East.

The earliest documented telescope was an invention by Mr. Roger Bacon in the 13th century. A gentleman named Leonard Digges from England is known to have invented the telescope in 1570s, but the first recorded recognition came in 1608. A Dutch scientist named Hans Lippershey looked at a church tower through two lenses arranged in front of each other and saw a magnified image. Unfortunately, Lippershey's model had a poor image quality due to the bending of light by glass lenses. Interestingly, two other men, Jacob Metius and Zacharias Jansen also claimed to have invented a telescope during the same time period. The original Dutch telescopes were constructed with a convex and a concave lens, and failed to invert the image. Facts points to telescopes being made in the Netherlands since its invention, and later finding its way all over Europe.

In 1609, Gallileo Galilei was acknowledged for the invention of the first astronomical telescope. He named it perspicillum, and telescopium in Latin, and telescopio in Italian. Galileo's telescope made use of a convex object lens and a concave eye lens, now commonly known as the Galilean telescope. The Galilean telescope is popularly used as a viewfinder in many basic cameras. From 1610 onwards, he went on to produce a series of similar instruments that he used for astronomical observations.

Johannes Kepler explained the practical advantages of a telescope made using two convex lenses in a theory in his book Catopirics (1611). Based upon the principle, the first person to construct a model was Christoph Scheiner who briefly explained it in his book Rosa Ursina (1630).

In 1668, Isaac Newton constructed the first reflecting telescope that used a concave mirror to collect and focus incoming light. It is also said that later, Johannes Kepler described in his books Astronomiae Pars Optica and Dioptrice the optics of lenses including a new kind of astronomical telescope with two convex lenses, a principle that came to be known as the Kepler telescope. The most recent, optical interferometer arrays and arrays of radio telescopes were developed recently in the 19th century.


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