History, Facts and Types of Optical Telescopes

  • Optical telescopes were not created directly by scientist inventors. They are creation of many optical craftsmen that worked on unlocking the secrets of lenses and their abilities to refract and reflect light.
  • First optical telescope was created by Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey in 1608.
  • Optical telescopes are the most popular and widely used telescopes. They are built in all sizes, from small models that are used by amateurs, to medium ones that are often used by companies, government and military organizations, and finally large ones that are regularity used by scientific communities all around the world.
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  • One of the most important telescope models ever made was one created by Galileo Galilei. He improved the design of the first telescope of Hans Lippershey, and enabled it to have better image quality, no intermediary focus, non-inverted image, and magnification of 30 times.
  • Popularity of telescopes in Europe was initially driven not only by science and military, but also by very quickly growing industry of sea travel. Ship captains demanded better and better portable telescopes so that they would easily identify coast landmarks and ships around them.
  • First medieval telescopes were built on the principles that were set by ancient Greece and Chinese inventors, mathematicians and physicists. That knowledge was gathered and enhanced by Arab scientist, before their findings were translated and brought into Europe.
  • Optical telescopes can be separated in three main types – Refracting telescope (one lens to form an image), reflecting telescope (multiple mirrors are forming an image) and catoptric telescope (which uses mix of lenses and mirrors). Many more sub-classes are also in use, usually built to perform a single task.
  • One of the key moments that enabled creation of telescopes was the popularization of lens manufacture for spectacles.
  • First practical refracting telescopes were created by Isaac Newton.
  • Optical telescopes are susceptible to the light interference that is created by atmosphere of our planet. Because of this, most astronomical telescopes are built on top of mountains that leave majority of harmful atmosphere below them.
  • 20th century introduced first telescopes that used adaptive optics and space telescopes.
  • The most famous optical telescope of all time is without any doubt Hubble Space Telescope that has filmed countless images of our galaxy.
  • The largest optical telescope ever started its construction in summer of 2014. Named “European Extremely Large Telescope”, this behemoth will have segmented mirror with a diameter of 39.3m, and collecting area of staggering 978m2.
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