Who Invented the Telescope?

The invention of the telescope is credited to Hans Lippershey.

About 400 years ago, stories emerged from the Netherlands describing the invention of a device that features twin lenses now commonly known as the telescope. However, the telescope first started out as a low-power spyglass before quickly evolving into an instrument with high optical magnification precision capable of even viewing the moons on planet Jupiter. The telescope is one of the most important inventions made by man. Imagine what the world would be like if the telescope were not invented because most of what humankind knows about the universe has been seen through the lens of a telescope.

Who Invented The Telescope?

The telescope was not an idea that just came out of the blues because rumors of both reflective and refractive optical devices that could view objects at far off distance had already been in circulation for hundreds of years. However, the said rumors of such devices were mostly in dubious magical contexts. The invention of the telescope is credited to Hans Lippershey who was the first person to patent a telescope. Lippershey was a German-Dutch eyeglass maker born in1570 in Wesel, Germany. Lippershey made the earliest known telescope which appeared in 1608 after he tried to get a patent for a device with three times magnification. Lippershey's telescope featured a concave eyepiece aligned with a convex objective lens.

Controversies Surrounding Lippershey

There are many theories as to how Hans Lippershey got the idea for designing his invention. Since Lippershey lived in the same town as Zachariah Jensen who was also an eyeglass maker, other people argued that he might have stolen the design from Jansen. However, scholars argue there was no real evidence that Lippershey stole Jansen's design, therefore, he is credited with the invention of the telescope mainly because of the patent application. Other people claim that, after observing two kids holding up two lenses in his shop, Lippershey discovered a distant weather vane was made to appear close through the lenses thus giving him the idea for his invention. A few weeks later another spectacle-maker known as Jacob Metius from Alkmaar, Netherlands filed for a patent for the same device.

Galileo's Contribution To The Invention

News of the 'Dutch perspective glass' reached Galileo Galilei in June 1609, while he happened to be in Venice. In a matter of days, Galileo had designed his telescope without even setting his eyes on one. After making improvements to his initial design, Galileo presented his device to the Senate in Venice. Besides, Galileo is believed to have been the first human being to point a telescope towards the sky thus making out the craters and mountains on the moon and the Milky Way. Galileo also discovered that Jupiter had its moons and the sun has sunspots.

Further Improvements On The Telescope

Almost 60 years after Hans Lippershey invented the first documented telescope, Isaac Newton further improved the design of the telescope by making a few additions such as creating the first reflector that was usable on the device. Since its first invention, there have been plenty of improvements on the telescope. Such developments have led to the creation of sophisticated instruments used by astronomers today. Scientists in Arizona unveiled the strongest telescope in the world in 2008 which was 400 years after the invention of the first one by Hans Lippershey.

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