Telescopes are used to study stars, planets, galaxies, and other celestial bodies.
A telescope gathers light from the night sky and focuses it on an image sensor.
This process allows us to see things that would otherwise be too dim to see.
Astronomers use telescopes to investigate space, and to discover new worlds.
Telescopes have a long and colorful history and have made a huge impact on space science across the ages. But who invented the telescope?
How did the telescope change over time to accommodate advances in scientific discovery?
Read on to find out and get all the answers you need today!
Who Invented The Telescope?
Telescopes were used by the Dutch in the 17th century. A Dutchman named Hans Lippershey patented the first telescope in 1608.
He made this invention because he wanted to see more things than he could see with his eyes alone.
This telescope had concave eyepieces that were aligned with another objective lens and was named an “eyeglass”.
This telescope could magnify objects up to 3 times. This telescope was used during the 17th century.
Lippershey invented the first telescope, but not until several years later did he apply for a patent.
He wasn’t the first person to make a telescope, nor was he the first person to make the first telescope.
Eventually, he made a working model of the device, but it didn’t function very well.
After many trials and errors, Hans finally got the right combination of lenses and mirrors to create a successful instrument.
The second model was called the ‘telescope’ and was completed in 1609.
While the first model was a simple device consisting of a convex objective and a concave eyecup, the second model was much larger than the previous version and included several additional parts.
This new model was capable of magnifying distant objects up to five times and had a focal length of about eight inches (20 cm).
He gave the finished product to Jacques Bovedere, who reported the invention to Galileo.
Galileo then begins to design his version of the telescope.
Galileo’s Telescope Design Improvement
Galileo improved upon the design of the telescope, adding a third lens to improve the quality of the image.
He also added a focusing mechanism to allow the user to adjust the magnification.
Galileo was the first person to use a telescope to study the stars. He discovered many things about the Moon, Sun, and planets.
He pointed out the existence of the Milky Way.
He also observed the rings of Saturn, sunspots on the surface of the Sun, and the discovery of four moons around Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
His observations also confirmed that Venus rotated around the Sun.
Kepler’s Telescope Design Improvement
By 1611, Kepler developed a better design for the telescope and published his findings in De Stella Nova.
This design allowed the observer to use a single eyepiece to both observe and magnify the object.
He also explained how telescopes work, he discovered the properties of total reflection, and he became the first person to describe real, virtual, and inverted images.
Huygen’s Design Improvement
In 1654, Christiaan Huygens’ improved design was patented.
This design incorporated many improvements over the original telescope designs, including the ability to use a larger aperture and a wider field of view.
These improvements led to the development of the modern astronomical telescope.
The telescope had two parts: a tube containing lenses, and an eyepiece.
The tube contained a lens that focuses light onto the eyepiece, which then magnified the image.
The telescope could be used to observe the moon, sun, or any object in space.
Christiaan Huygens made detailed observations of Saturn using his telescope.
He discovered a bright moon orbiting Saturn, which he called Saturni Luna.
He documented the true shape of Saturn’s rings. He named them after himself, calling them Christiaans Ringen.
Newton’s Reflector Telescope
Isaac Newton invented the reflector telescope.
He built the first reflector telescope with a design incorporating a small flat diagonal mirror. This design is still used today.
Newton’s Reflector telescope used a large concave primary lens to gather light.
This gathered light was then focused by a smaller flat diagonal mirror on the opposite side of the telescope.
An image was formed in an eyepiece on one side of the telescope.
Newton was known as an excellent mathematician and physicist.
He was the first scientist to fully understand the laws of motion, gravity, optics, and calculus.
Newton created the modern science of physics.
He was the first person to explain the nature of light and gravity, the law of universal gravitation. and the theory of relativity.
In 1672, Laurent Cassegrain introduced the concept of using a second smaller convex mirror to correct chromatic aberration (color distortion).
Achromatic lenses were first developed in 1733 by Chester Moore Hall.
These lenses greatly reduce color distortions in objective lenses and allow for shorter and more functional instruments.
He used a concave mirror instead of a convex mirror to produce an image.
In doing so, he reduced the amount of chromatic aberration produced by a telescope. This type of lens is called a “concave” lens.
Another French scientist named John Hadley improved upon the design of Cassegrain’s reflector.
He invented a new kind of lens called a “plano-convex” lens.
This type of lens consists of two different kinds of glass, the crown glass, and flint glass, that are cemented together.
With these lenses, he did away with the chromatic aberration caused by Newton’s reflectors.
These lenses are also called “plano-convex” lenses.
Hall discovered his solution by studying human eyes. He used various types of glasses until he found the right combination of crown flint.
The First Giant Telescope – Herschel
The first giant reflector telescope built-in 1789 was designed by William Herschel.
As impressive as this must have seemed, it was far from ideal.
Herschel solved an important problem with the poor reflective qualities of the speculum metal usually used in Newtonian telescopes, by simply omitting the diagonals entirely and tilting the primary mirrors to allow users to directly view the scene without any obstructions.
Herschel used his large telescope to discover many moons around Uranus, including Titania and Oberon.
He used his small telescope to discover Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Mimas.
Kühn’s Gregorian Telescope
The Gregorian telescope was designed by Nicholas von Kühn in 1884, based on an idea developed earlier by Johann Zacharias Dase.
The resulting instrument proved very successful and became widely known as the “Kuhn Telescope.” It was the world’s largest at that time.
The Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope was designed by Rudolph Schmidt in 1889 after seeing another refractor telescope on display in Munich during a visit there.
This design was based on the earlier work of Ernst Abbe by the same developer, who in turn had taken inspiration from a similar design made by Giovanni Battista Zocchi in the early eighteenth century.
The Dobsonian telescope was developed in 1924 by Dr. Henry Norris Russell and others in Wisconsin, US.
It uses a large, heavy primary mirror mounted on a fork or gimbals so that it can be moved out of the way when imaging.
This allowed for direct viewing of the sky without obstructions.
The Radio Telescope
Karl Gunther Janksy invented the radio telescope in the early 1930s.
He constructed dipoles and reflectors which were made to receive shortwave radio signals at 20.5 MHz to find out what was causing the static interfering with radio services.
The structure was 30 meters in diameter and 20ft tall.
Grote Reber, a radio enthusiast, then went on to develop the first-ever device which could see radio waves – a parabolic dish telescope in his back garden.
Sir Bernard Lovell, inspired by the work of Jansky and Reber, built a 76-meter tall radio telescope which became significant in the study of meteors, pulsars, and quasars, and had a lot of involvement in the beginnings of the Space Race.
The Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble was built by NASA and the European Space Agency in 1990.
It is the largest and most flexible space telescope ever created. It took part in many vital research programs.
After being deployed into low earth orbit, Hubble has provided extremely clear images of the stars, planets, galaxies, and other celestial objects.
Astronauts have serviced the telescope since 1993.
New instruments were added over time, and the telescope will last until at least the 2030s.
Hubble’s Replacement: The James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope will replace The Hubble Space Telescope and is being developed by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.
It will feature outstanding resolution, better sensitivity, improved investigative capabilities, and will give scientists important space data.
Without telescopes, we would have not made many of the discoveries about space that we have made.
Thanks to a range of resourceful and innovative inventors across history, we have been able to learn more than ever and greatly advance our knowledge of the cosmos.
The future of space science looks extremely promising, and there may yet be many more advances to the abilities of telescopes as time goes on.
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