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The History of The Telescope

Surprisingly, the identity of the person who invented the telescope is a mystery. In 1608, Dutch eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey (or Lipperhey) applied for a patent for a device that could magnify objects three times. However, some people at the time claimed that he stole the design from another local eyeglass maker, Zacharias Jansen. However, the complications don’t end there. A few weeks after Lippershey, Jacob Metius applied for a patent for a telescope. Due to the two counterclaims, the government turned down both men’s patent applications. However, they also paid Lippershey a large fee to make copies of his telescope. In 1609, Galileo Galilei created his own telescope, which could magnify objects 20 times, and became the first to point his telescope skyward. He observed mountains and craters on the moon, what would later become known as the Milky Way, the rings of Saturn, sunspots, and four of Jupiter's moons. His studies with his telescope helped convince him of the validity of the sun-centered Copernican model of the planets, but he was considered a heretic at the time by the Catholic Church. Other European scientists began making improvements to the telescope, including Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton. Today, the telescope remains a key tool in astronomy, with famous telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope making their way into the general public’s consciousness.

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