Course:History 344 Nasty Families/Inventions/Telescope

From UBC Wiki


The Telescope is an astronomer's window into the heavens. It was developed in the early seventeenth century undergoing simultaneous development across Europe as craftsmen became proficient with creating lenses. The men accredited to the first development of the Telescope are Galileo Galilee and Hans Lippershey.[1] The first mentions of the telescope arose in 1608 in The Hague patent office with a description of two lenses one convex and one concave in a cylinder designed to amplify what the viewer looked at.[2]

The telescope is traditionally accredited to Galileo’s initial viewing of the stars, moon, moons of Jupiter, and Saturn's belt. He is also accredited for questioning the current church supported Geocentric model in which the earth was the center of the universe. Galileo used his very limited version of the telescope to debunk this model at great risk of prosecution by the church.[3]

Hans Lippershey developed the first mobile and adjustable telescope in 1608, he did this by fixing one lens and having an adjustable eye lens at the other end effectively creating the first refractive telescope. The Dutch adopted this invention very rapidly in the military as the applications were obvious and extremely beneficial.[4] While the Dutch were quick to adopt Lippershey’s device they were not as quick to grant his request for a 30 year patent. This refusal came due too to many people had knowledge of such a device making it public knowledge and thus not Lippershey’s property.[5]

By 1609 the Telescope could be purchased at several key shops on the Pont Neuf in Paris and continued its rapid spread throughout Europe and England.[6] While Galileo was not the inventor of the telescope he was responsible for developing ever more powerful lenses and combination of the 3 lens spy-glasses as he initially called them.


The development of the telescope allowed for the gentry of England to pick up a hobby that was once reserved to astronomers reading horoscopes. With the advent of the telescope any Gentleman wishing to gaze upon the heavens could become a budding astronomer.[7]


  1. "An Early History of the Telescope." Accessed February 9, 2012.
  2. Tools of Cosmology, "The First Telescopes." Accessed February 9, 2012.
  3. Tools of Cosmology.
  4. The Robinson Library, "Hans Lippershey." Last modified 08,05,2009. Accessed February 9, 2012.
  5. The Robinson Library.
  6. Tools of Cosmology.
  7. Tools of Cosmology.