Invention of the Telescope



The first invention of the telescope is often credited to either Hans Lippershey or Sacharias Jansen.

Both men were Dutch eyeglass-makers that experimented with lenses to view distant objects.

By placing one lens (convex) in front of another (concave), an image of a remote object could be magnified.


Perspective Glass

In 1608, Lippershey made a patent application for his invention, which he called the "Dutch Perspective Glass".

It was described as a device "for seeing far-away things as though nearby" and consisted of a pair of lenses inside a tube.

The patent application was disallowed because his invention of the telescope was not unique. It was an apparatus that would be obvious to anyone familiar with lens-making.


Galileo Galilei

Galileo, the Italian physicist and mathematician, was aware of the "perspective glass" and began making improvements to its magnification.

The lens created by Lippershey was limited to 3x magnification of a remote object. Galileo realized that magnification was determined by the strength of the concave (eyepiece) lens in relation to the convex lens.

Galileo was able to create glass lenses with curvatures that had never been previously manufactured. This allowed him to make an instrument with a 32x magnification.

This new instrument was named the "telescope" from Greek tele meaning "far" and skopein meaning "to look or see".

Galileo used his invention of the telescope to discover mountains on the moon.


Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton made significant improvements to the image quality of telescopes.

The spectrum of colors in light do not bend equally through glass lenses and causes a distortion of the image.

Newton solved this problem by using mirrors to create a reflecting telescope that reduced distortion.


Modern Telescopes

invention-of-the-telescope A lot has been learned about the subject of light since the days of Isaac Newton.

Telescopes are now sophisticated instruments that can gather electromagnetic radiation from a distance so it may be converted into images.

Although Lippershey never received a patent for his invention, we can now use a telescope to view a crater on the moon that was named after him.



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