History of The Telescope

History Of The Telescope

The earliest known working telescopes appeared in 1608 and are credited to Hans Lippershey. Among many others who claimed to have made the discovery were Zacharias Janssen, a spectacle-maker in Middelburg, and Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. The design of these early refracting telescopes consisted of a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece. Galileo used this design the following year. In 1611, Johannes Kepler described how a telescope could be made with a convex objective lens and a convex eyepiece lens and by 1655 astronomers such as Christiaan Huygens were building powerful but unwieldy Keplerian telescopes with compound eyepieces. Hans Lippershey is the earliest person documented to have applied for a patent for the device.

Isaac Newton is credited with building the first "practical" reflector in 1668 with a design that incorporated a small flat diagonal mirror to reflect the light to an eyepiece mounted on the side of the telescope. Laurent Cassegrain in 1672 described the design of a reflector with a small convex secondary mirror to reflect light through a central hole in the main mirror.

The achromatic lens, which greatly reduced color aberrations in objective lenses and allowed for shorter and more functional telescopes, first appeared in a 1733 telescope made by Chester Moore Hall, who did not publicize it. John Dollond learned of Hall's invention and began producing telescopes using it in commercial quantities, starting in 1758.

Important developments in reflecting telescopes were John Hadley's production of larger paraboloidal mirrors in 1721; the process of silvering glass mirrors introduced by Léon Foucault in 1857; and the adoption of long lasting aluminized coatings on reflector mirrors in 1932. Almost all of the large optical research telescopes used today are reflectors.

The era of radio telescopes (along with radio astronomy) was born with Karl Guthe Jansky's serendipitous discovery of an astronomical radio source in 1931. Many types of telescopes were developed in the 20th century for a wide range of wavelengths from radio to gamma-rays.

Read more about History Of The Telescope:  Other Wavelengths, Interferometric Telescopes

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