Evolution of the Telescope

  • Jacob W. M. Baars
  • Hans J. Kärcher
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 447)


Conic sections were first “discovered” by Menaechmus (380–320 bc) and fully studied by Apollonius of Perga (died ca. 190 bc), a contemporary of Archimedes. He introduced the common names ellipse, parabola and hyperbola for the three conic sections that serve as the defining curves for reflectors of electromagnetic radiation. Pappus of Alexandria (~290–350 CE) proved that a point on a conic exhibits a constant ratio of its distance to a given point and to a given line. This constant is known as the eccentricity of the conic; the fixed point is the focus and the line is called directrix.

Supplementary material


  1. Baars, J.W.M.: The Paraboloidal Reflector Antenna in Radio Astronomy and Communication. Springer, Berlin (2007)Google Scholar
  2. Cassegrain, L.: Journal des sçavans. J.-B. Denis edt. 7, 71–74 (1672)Google Scholar
  3. Da Vinci, L.: Codex Atlanticus, p. 59(b) (1513)Google Scholar
  4. Faraday, M.: Faraday’s Diary, vol. IV, pp. 7504–7718 (1845)Google Scholar
  5. Gregory, J.: Optica Promota (1663)Google Scholar
  6. Hertz, H.: Über Strahlen elektrischer Kraft. Wiedemans Analen. 36, 769 (1888)Google Scholar
  7. Kärcher, H.J.: Large telescopes and the art of bridge building. Proc. SPIE. 7012, 4K1–12 (2008)Google Scholar
  8. Maxwell, J.C.: Dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 155, 459–512 (1865)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Meinel, A.B.: Cost-scaling laws applicable to very large optical telescopes. Opt. Eng. 18, 645–647 (1979)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Parsons, W.: (Earl of Rosse), Observations on the Nebulae. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. 140, 499–514 (1850) (PDF online)Google Scholar
  11. Van Belle, G.T., Meinel, A.B., Meinel, M.P.: The scaling relationship between telescope cost and aperture size for very large telescopes. Proc. SPIE. 5489, 563 (2004)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wilson, R.N.: Reflecting Telescope Optics, p. 90 ff. Springer, Berlin (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob W. M. Baars
    • 1
  • Hans J. Kärcher
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für RadioastronomieBonnGermany
  2. 2.MT Mechatronics - consultantKarbenGermany

Personalised recommendations