• Julian A. Smith
Reference work entry

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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abdi, W. H., et al. Interaction Between Indian and Central Asian Science and Technology in Medieval Times. New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1990.Google Scholar
  2. Jaggi, O. P. History of Science, Technology and Medicine in India, esp. Vol. 6–7. Delhi: Atma Ram, 1977–1986.Google Scholar
  3. King, David A. Islamic Astronomical Instruments. London: Variorum, 1987.Google Scholar
  4. King, Henry C. Geared to the Stars: The Evolution of Planetariums, Orreries and Astronomical Clocks. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  5. Kuppuram, G. and K. Kumudamini. History of Science and Technology in India. Vol. 1–12. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1990.Google Scholar
  6. Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilisation in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954.Google Scholar
  7. ‐‐‐. Heavenly Clockwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960.Google Scholar
  8. ‐‐‐. Clerks and Craftsmen in China and the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  9. Sayılı, Aydın. The Observatory in Islam. Ankara: Turkish Historical Society, 1960.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian A. Smith

There are no affiliations available