The Telescope's Folk Heroes
Trying to decipher who discovered the telescope is not as simple as one might think. Galileo is widely attributed with creating the original telescope, but the invention was actually a collaborative process that spanned across time. The term “telescope” was not even coined when in 1609 Galileo created his own device designed to look into the heavens.
3500 B.C. to 15th Century
The evolution of the technology used to create the telescope can be traced back to 3500 B.C. it was during this year that Phonenicians first came upon glass. In 424 B.C. lenses were discovered in some form as a way to create fire. Others who helped included Greek and Islamic scholars. However, it was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that lenses were developed to improve vision.
While Galileo is the one usually credited with inventing the telescope, it is Thomas Harriot who was regarded as the first individual to make an actual drawing of the moon based upon the use of a telescope. This took place on July 26, 1609; more than 4 months before Galileo used his telescope to view the moon.
After Galileo heard that a device had been created he set out to build his own telescope. It had very limited magnification: 30 power with a narrow field of view. It is believed that he was only able to see about a quarter of the moon’s face with his telescope.
In 1611 Johannes Kepler added to the development of the telescope by creating a concave eyepiece. It allowed for a larger field of view, which made images clearer and expanded.
Over the following 60 years the design of the telescope changed to produce pinpoints of light and focus easier to achieve. In addition to Galileo and Kepler, Descartes, Hevilius and Hooke also made profound discoveries and advancements to the original design of the telescope.
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