Telescope

  • Julian A. Smith
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8880

The telescope is an optical instrument used to make distant objects appear nearer and larger; it consists of one or more tubes with a series of lenses, mirrors, or both (refracting, reflecting and catadioptric models, respectively), through which light rays are collected, brought to a focus, and magnified. Despite their great variety, all telescopes have two basic parts: the objective, which intercepts and focuses the incoming light, and the mounting, which supports the objective. The telescope, which revolutionized astronomical research in the seventeenth century, is usually considered to be a European invention, though parallel discoveries occurred elsewhere, and some of its elements were developed earlier by other cultures.

The traditional Western account of the telescope's invention is quite complex. The use of hollow sighting tubes without lenses to observe stars had been known to the ancient Greeks, being recorded by Aristotle (384–322 BCE) and the geographer Strabo (ca. 63...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian A. Smith

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