Telescope - History of Telescope


Fascinating humankind for centuries, space is thought of as the final frontier. Pushing to see more, discover more, and find unique anomalies of the universe has motivated the most dramatic technological advances of our time. Before the invention of the telescope, the view of our universe was only accessible through the naked eye and humans could only imagine the complexities of the heavens.

In 1609, Hans Lippershey glanced to the skies through the creation of the first known telescope. It was fairly limited, with only 3x magnification, but it stirred the great minds of the day to continue developing the model. By 1611 Galileo had perfected the telescope, by increasing the magnification to thirty-three diameters. This allowed for the first visualization of sunspots and a few of Saturn's moons. Although Lippershey invented the telescope, Galileo's marked improvements led to it being known as the "Galilean telescope"

The continued development of the Galilean telescope, led to multiple organizational structures and telescope classes. Johannes Kepler created one type, known as a refracting telescope, in 1611. Eventually, improvements on this model led to the identification of Saturn's brightest moon, Titan. A second type of telescope, known as a reflecting telescope, used a curved mirror to reflect and increase the viewed image. In 1688 Isaac Newton succeeded in the creation of the first reflecting telescope, which allowed for a marked increase in magnification. Continued development of the reflecting telescope, eventually led to the creation of extremely large models in the mid 1800s, which had larger magnification and increased image resolution. The Hooker telescope, created in 1917, is an example of this model and is over 100 inches long!

From the 1980s, telescopes using adaptive optics were becoming more prominent. This type of telescope views an image multiple times, sensing variations caused from light or movement. A computer processes these images, and moves the appropriate mirrors within the telescope to allow for the capture of an optimal view. The Keck telescopes, and the two Gemini telescopes created in the 1990s are examples of this class.

From the twinkling stars viewed from the human eye, to the magnified image of Saturn's moons, space continues to inform and excite our place in the universe. The final frontier is just beginning to be explored and the information gained from the view of the small, circular lens of a telescope will direct our thrilling journey forward.

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