Hans Lippershey - Inventor of First Refracting Telescope
The first reported case of anyone building telescope came from 1608, from within diplomatic report between embassy of Holland and Kingdom of Siam. In that
report it was described how watch-maker and master lens-grinder Hans Lippershey has managed to combine specially crafted lenses to create first working
model of telescope.
Hans Lippershey was born in 1570 in Wesel, Germany. At the age of 24 he settled in Middelburg (province Zeeland), Netherlands, where he was married. There
he opened his shop, creating spectacles and crafting lenses of various sizes. It is not exactly known from where he got an idea for building his first
telescope. Some reports claim that he heard of similar devices that were made by other people, while some believe that he simply came to idea to it when he
saw children playing with his lenses. In any case, in 1608 he managed to create first crude telescope that had either two convex lenses (that produced
inverted image) or a convex objective and concave eyepiece lens (that would produce upright image). This design was brought to the States General of the
Netherlands so that it could be patented, but there Lippershey encountered problems. Even though the managed to be quicker than one another lens maker
(Jacob Metius), Dutch government recognized that several other people have managed to create devices of very similar design that other spectacle makers
wanted to take credit for. Lippershey was not awarded a patent, but he received generous reward by Dutch government.
That same year, word of his design spread across the Europe, enabling other scientists to copy his design and start thinking about applying significant
improvements. Three most famous people who immediately started work on building telescopes were Italian scientist Paolo Sarpi, Englishman Thomas Harriot
and Italian Galileo Galilei who managed to build a significantly more powerful telescope in a month of hearing about Hans Lippershey’s design. Lippershey’s
telescope had a modest three-times magnification, and Galileo managed to craft 10 times more powerful one.
Hans Lippershey died 11 years after he managed to change the history of telescopes forever, in September of 1619.