Telescopes: Types, Working and Facts

A telescope, an optical device resembling a tube, serves as a tool to observe distant objects with enhanced clarity. This remarkable invention can be attributed to Hans Lippershey, a Dutch optician who invented it in 1608. A mere year later, Galileo constructed his telescope with a magnification of thirty, enabling him to witness the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.


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Hans Lippershey Galileo Galilei
Hans Lippershey Galileo Galilei

Types of Telescopes existed today

  • Refracting telescopes
  • Reflecting telescopes
  • Radio telescopes
A Pair Of Binoculars Refracting Telescope

In addition to telescopes, binoculars, essentially two telescopes joined together, are used to closely observe distant entities, ranging from mountain peaks to horse races.

A Refracting Telescope employs lenses to bend or refract light, utilizing two lenses conjoined in harmony. Astronomical telescopes feature a larger convex objective lens alongside a convex eyepiece. Conversely, a Galilean Telescope encompasses a convex lens and a concave eyepiece. Modern Refracting Telescopes have evolved significantly.

Convex Mirror With Light Reflecting From It
Convex Mirror With Light Reflecting From It

On the other hand, Reflecting Telescopes consist of a concave mirror, designed to converge and focus incoming light rays, accompanied by an additional mirror near the focal point that reflects the rays into the eyepiece. The Newtonian Telescope strategically positions a mirror at a 45-degree angle to direct light into the eyepiece. Meanwhile, the Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope features a convex lens and redirects light into a small orifice at the center of the objective mirror.

A Concave Mirror With Light Reflecting From It
A Concave Mirror With Light Reflecting From It

The advent of Radio Telescopes occurred in the 1930s, characterized by their dish-shaped radio wave collectors. These telescopes possess the unique ability to penetrate cloud cover, and they operate based on radio waves rather than visible light. The world’s most substantial radio dish collector boasts a remarkable diameter of 305 meters.

Radio Telescope
Radio Telescope
Reflecting Telescope
Reflecting Telescope

Here are Some Interesting Facts about Telescopes

  • Hans Lippershey, a Dutchman, is credited with inventing the telescope in 1608, although there are tales suggesting that children playing with lenses in a spectacle-maker’s shop had already devised a rudimentary version three years earlier.
  • Telescopes played a pivotal role in the inception of the first high-speed telecommunication networks, as spyglasses facilitated the relay of semaphore signals over long distances.
  • Galileo was the first to direct a telescope towards the celestial heavens, leading to groundbreaking discoveries like the observation of Jupiter’s satellites and lunar craters. However, his less prudent examination of the sun may have ultimately contributed to his blindness.
  • Ireland’s “Leviathan of Parsonstown,” a massive reflecting telescope erected by the Earl of Rosse in 1845, held the title of the world’s largest telescope for seven decades, although it was often rendered inoperative due to inclement weather.
  • A remarkable feat of human effort involved the delivery of the 100-inch mirror for the Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson in California, where nearly 200 men painstakingly guided a truck along an arduous, eight-hour journey to the summit. The Hooker Telescope played a pivotal role in confirming the existence of other galaxies and the expansion of the universe.
  • Presently, amateur astronomers can seamlessly operate Internet-based telescopes, such as the “Seeing in the Dark” scope at New Mexico Skies, from the comfort of their homes. This remote approach is increasingly adopted by professional astronomers, who conduct telescope operations via computers rather than peering through eyepieces.
  • NASA, the United States government’s agency responsible for civilian space exploration, aeronautics, and aerospace research, has a mission to pioneer future endeavors in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. Notably, NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, an initiative that consumed over $2 million in funding.

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