The history of the telescope

Throughout time, people have always tilted their heads back and gazed in wonder at the twinkling stars up in the sky. However, it took hundreds of years before they were suddenly able to get detailed pictures of what was truly up there. It all happened thanks to a man named Galileo Galilei. Let us take a look at the history of the telescope!

The world’s first telescope changed the world

The world’s first telescope was invented in the early 17th century. It all took place in the Netherlands, and a Dutch spectacle-maker named Hans Lippershey was the man behind the construction. It was a primitive telescope that was used, but it certainly worked.

At this time, people believed that the earth was the center of the universe, an idea that came from Aristotle, among others. Now a new age began. All of a sudden it was discovered that the earth, like many other planets, revolved around the sun. In addition, it turned out that there were many more stars than could be seen with the naked eye.

Galileo Galilei

It all began with Galileo Galilei

The history of the telescope is full of wonderful discoveries that have amazed people around the globe for hundreds of years. The one we have to thank for the foundation of all discoveries is the Italian Galileo Galilei.

In 1609, Galileo was able to lay hands on the world’s first telescope and improve its construction. He realized that a convex and a concave lens produced a magnifying effect when placed at opposite ends of the tube.

Galileo kept experimenting with greater magnifications and he was soon able to use his telescope to study the sky as well as the moon. It was therefore Galileo who first discovered that the moon was hilly and had mountains.

The history of the telescope continues – with focus on Jupiter

A year later, Galileo had constructed a telescope with a magnification so impressive that he could view Jupiter and four celestial bodies orbiting the planet. Then it became clear once and for all that the earth was not the center of the universe which everything revolved around. The four celestial bodies have subsequently been determined to be Jupiter’s four moons.

Galileo quickly became regarded as Europe’s leading astronomer, but the church opposed his ideas, and he was therefore put under house arrest for life. It was not acceptable for anyone to oppose the worldview of the church.

From glass lenses to enormous space telescopes

The history of the telescope is very interesting, and you can clearly see how science has developed over the years. The first telescopes had glass lenses that magnified the sky. Then came telescopes with mirrors that collected the light rays and thus could give even clearer images. Mirrors are still used today as one of the most common designs.

It was Isaac Newton who constructed the world’s first reflecting telescope. In 1668, much sharper images of space could therefore be obtained. Newton’s law of gravitation also explained that the movements of the celestial bodies are affected by gravity.

In 1931, the world’s first radio telescope was created, something that would also revolutionize the interesting history of the telescope. This construction led to the discovery of two completely new planets. These exist in their own star system which is a whopping 980 light years away. After this discovery, more and more extremely distant planets could be discovered.

After the radio telescope came the first space telescope. It was launched into space in 1968 and bears very little resemblance to Galileo Galilei’s small telescope. The space telescopes observe the types of radiation that pass through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The modern telescopes of today

Today we know that the earth is just a tiny dot in a huge universe. We reside in one of several billion galaxies. Our little globe floats around in the midst of planets, stars, moons and black holes. It is thanks to Lippershey and Galilei that we could begin to discover this amazing world beyond the sky.

The astronomers of today use several types of telescopes, both ground-based and space-based varieties, and technology is constantly advancing. We can therefore promise that the history of the telescope is not yet over. There is much more to come.