Timeline of Telescope Technology
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Timeline of Telescope Technology

The following timeline lists the significant events in the invention and development of the telescope.


2560 BC to 1 BC

  • c.2560 BC-c.860 BC -- Egyptian artisans polish rock crystal, semi-precious stones, and latterly glass to produce facsimile eyes for statuary and mummy cases. The intent appears to be to produce an optical illusion.[1][2][3]
  • c.470 BC-c.390 BC -- Chinese philosopher Mozi writes on the use of concave mirrors to focus the sun's rays.[]
  • 424 BC Aristophanes "lens" is a glass globe filled with water.(Seneca says that it can be used to read letters no matter how small or dim)[4]
  • 3rd century BC Euclid is the first to write about reflection and refraction and notes that light travels in straight lines[5]

1 AD to 999 AD

  • 2nd century AD -- Ptolemy (in his work Optics) wrote about the properties of light including: reflection, refraction, and colour.
  • 984 -- Ibn Sahl completes a treatise On Burning Mirrors and Lenses, describing plano-convex and biconvex lenses, and parabolic and ellipsoidal mirrors.[6][7]

1000 AD to 1999 AD

  • 1011-1021 -- Ibn al-Haytham (also known as Alhacen or Alhazen) writes the Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics)[8]
  • 12th century -- Ibn al-Haytham's Book of Optics is introduced to Europe translated into Latin.[9]
  • 1230-1235 -- Robert Grosseteste describes the use of 'optics' to "...make small things placed at a distance appear any size we want, so that it may be possible for us to read the smallest letters at incredible distances..." ("Haec namque pars Perspectivae perfecte cognita ostendit nobis modum, quo res longissime distantes faciamus apparere propinquissime positas et quo res magnas propinquas faciamus apparere brevissimas et quo res longe positas parvas faciamus apparere quantum volumus magnas, ita ut possible sit nobis ex incredibili distantia litteras minimas legere, aut arenam, aut granum, aut gramina, aut quaevis minuta numerare.") in his work De Iride.[10]
  • 1266 -- Roger Bacon mentions the magnifying properties of transparent objects in his treatise Opus Majus.
  • 1270 (approx) -- Witelo writes Perspectiva -- "Optics" incorporating much of Kitab al-Manazir.[11]
  • 1285-1300 spectacles are invented.[12]
  • 1570 -- The writings of Thomas Digges describes how his father, English mathematician and surveyor Leonard Digges (1520-1559), made use of a "proportional Glass" to view distant objects and people. Some, such as the historian Colin Ronan, claim this describes a reflecting or refracting telescope built between 1540 and 1559 but its vague description and claimed performance makes it dubious.[13][14][15]
  • 1570s -- Ottoman astronomer and engineer Taqi al-Din seems to describe a rudimentary telescope in his Book of the Light of the Pupil of Vision and the Light of the Truth of the Sights. He also states that he wrote another earlier treatise explaining the way this instrument is made and used, suggesting that he invented it some time before 1574.[]
  • 1586 Giambattista della Porta writes "...to make glasses that can recognize a man several miles away" [16] It is unclear whether he is describing a telescope or corrective glasses.[17]
  • 1608 -- Hans Lippershey, a Dutch lensmaker, applies for a patent for a perspective glass "for seeing things far away as if they were nearby", the first recorded design for what will later be called a telescope. His patent beats fellow Dutch instrument-maker's Jacob Metius's patent by a few weeks. A claim will be made 37 years later by another Dutch spectacle-maker that his father, Zacharias Janssen, invented the telescope.[18]
A replica of Galileo's telescope
  • 1609 -- Galileo Galilei makes his own improved version of Lippershey's telescope, calling it a "perspicillum".
  • 1611 -- Greek mathematician Giovanni Demisiani coins the word "telescope" (from the Greek ?, tele "far" and ?, skopein "to look or see"; ?, teleskopos "far-seeing") for one of Galileo Galilei's instruments presented at a banquet at the Accademia dei Lincei.[19][20][21]
  • 1611 -- Johannes Kepler describes the optics of lenses (see his books Astronomiae Pars Optica and Dioptrice), including a new kind of astronomical telescope with two convex lenses (the 'Keplerian' telescope).
  • 1616 -- Niccolo Zucchi claims at this time he experimented with a concave bronze mirror, attempting to make a reflecting telescope.
  • 1630 -- Christoph Scheiner constructs a telescope to Kepler's design.
  • 1650 -- Christiaan Huygens produces his design for a compound eyepiece.
  • 1663 -- Scottish mathematician James Gregory designs a reflecting telescope with paraboloid primary mirror and ellipsoid secondary mirror. Construction techniques at the time could not make it, and a workable model was not produced until 10 years later by Robert Hooke. The design is known as 'Gregorian'.
A replica of Isaac Newton's reflecting telescope of 1672
The Oldest Observatory in South America is the Quito Astronomical Observatory, founded in 1873.

2000 CE to 2019 CE

See also


  1. ^ Enoch J (April 2000). "First known lenses originating in Egypt about 4600 years ago!". Hindsight. 31 (2): 9-17. PMID 11624467.
  2. ^ Studies of the oldest Known Lenses at the Louvre (4600 Years Before the Present)
  3. ^ Remarkable Old Kingdom Lenses and the Illusion of the Following Eye
  4. ^ King 2003, p. 25
  5. ^ King 2003, p. 26
  6. ^ Rashed, Roshdi (September 1990). "A Pioneer in Anaclastics: Ibn Sahl on Burning Mirrors and Lenses". Isis. 81 (3): 464-491. doi:10.1086/355456. JSTOR 233423.
  7. ^ Elizabeth, Hazel. "902AD Manuscript Located". Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait. Retrieved .
  8. ^ For extensive references, see the Book of Optics article.
  9. ^ Kriss, Timothy C.; Kriss, Vesna Martich (April 1998). "History of the Operating Microscope: From Magnifying Glass to Microneurosurgery". Neurosurgery. 42 (4): 899-907. doi:10.1097/00006123-199804000-00116. PMID 9574655.
  10. ^ "De iride". Archived from the original on 2007-06-27. Retrieved .
  11. ^ For references, see the Witelo article.
  12. ^ King 2003
  13. ^ "Did the reflecting telescope have English origins?". 2002. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Ronan, Colin A. M.Sc. F.R.A.S. (1991). "Leonard and Thomas Digges". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. British Astronomical Association. 101 (6).
  15. ^ Fred Watson, Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope, page 38
  16. ^ Bologna University Department of Astronomy -- TELESCOPES
  17. ^ Rebecca Stefoff, Microscopes and telescopes, page 17
  18. ^ David Whitehouse, Renaissance Genius: Galileo Galilei & His Legacy to Modern Science, pages 69-70
  19. ^ archive.org "Galileo His Life And Work" BY J. J. FAHIE "Galileo usually called the telescope occhicde or cannocchiale ; and now he calls the microscope occhialino. The name telescope was first suggested by Demisiani in 1612"
  20. ^ Sobel (2000, p.43), Drake (1978, p.196)
  21. ^ Rosen, Edward, The Naming of the Telescope (1947)
  22. ^ King 2003, p. 77
  23. ^ a b telescope?ptics.net -- 8.2. Two-mirror telescopes
  24. ^ The complete Amateur Astronomer -- John Hadley's Reflector
  25. ^ The Oldest Observatory in South America is the Quito Astronomical Observatory
  26. ^ Quito Astronomical Observatory Official Web Site, founded in 1873
  27. ^ [https://aas.org/posts/news/2014/04/ecuador-establishes-division-solar-physics-phenomena American Astronomical Society, ecuador-establishes-division-solar-physics-phenomena
  28. ^ "The Schmidt Camera". October 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved .
  29. ^ nmt.edu -- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology -- "Resurfacing the 100-inch (2,500 mm) Telescope" by George Zamora Archived 2008-10-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ "The James Webb Space Telescope". NASA.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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