observatories and telescopes

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General introduction to the history of the development of the different types of telescopes.


  • 1. From the Greek:tele = far andskopein = to look or see; teleskopos = far-seeing

2. Hans Lippershey (1570 1619) Hi There, Im German telescope inventor HansLippershey! In 1608 after some considerable messing about with optical lenses in myspectacle shop I submitted a patentapplication for the Dutch Perspective Glass. It could magnify objects by a factor of three. I never did receive that patent but was amplycompensated with a ton of cash! Auf Wiedersehen! 3. Galileo Galilei (1564 1642) Buon Giorno! In 1609 I had heard about Hans Lippersheys telescope design anddecided to build my own. It was great!(a magnification of x33!). It was so great in fact that in 1610 I used it to discover three moons orbiting the planet Jupiter! This supported Nicolaus Copernicus idea that the Earth was notthe centre of the universe.Unfortunately this got me into trouble with the Catholic Church (who eventually had me put under housearrest for Heresy!). Still, never mind! Ciao! 4. Refracting TelescopeA refracting telescope (or spyglass)uses the principle of an objectivelens to gather light and an eyepiecelens to focus it. The lenses refract(bend) the light. The greater thequality of the lens, the better theimage. 5. Sir Isaac Newton (1643 1727)Somewhat typically, I, SirIsaac Newton have improved upon the original refractingtelescope design with my newreflecting telescope (built by me in 1670). This uses a bigmirror instead of a lens and ismuch less likely to sufferdistortion effects. 6. William Herschel (1738 1822)Hi! Im William Herschel. In1781 I discovered The Planet Uranus and in 1789 I used this massive 12m telescopeto discover a new moon ofthe planet Saturn! 7. William Parsons (1800 1867)Hi There! William Parsons, 3rd Earlof Rosse here. In 1845 I built the worlds biggest telescope (it had a72 mirror!). I used this telescopeto show the spiral nature of galaxies, in fact I discovered the Whirlpool Galaxy! 8. Reflecting TelescopeA reflecting telescope uses asystem of curved mirrors tocollect light. An eyepiece is usedto focus the light for viewing.Nearly all large telescopes arereflectors. They are less likely todistort the images and are easierto make on a large scale. 9. Grote Reber (1911 2002)Gee Whiz! Hi there everyone! Its me! Grote Reber, the father of RadioAstronomy! Following on from KarlJanskys 1933 discovery of radio waves emanating from the centre of the galaxyI built a radio telescope in my back garden in 1937! This enabled me tocomplete a radio frequency sky map in 1941! This in turn lead to an explosion inradio astronomy at the end of the Second World War. 10. Jodrell Bank (1966 - )Hi there! Im the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the North West ofEngland. Im the biggest steerable radio telescopein the world and am personally responsible for the discovery of Pulsars in deep space! 11. Very Large Array (1980 - ) Hello! Im part of the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico.We started scanning the skies in1980. Each dish is 25 meters acrossand weighs 209 tonnes! These were used to receive radio signals from theVoyager 2 spacecraft as it flew pastthe planet Neptune! Impressive! 12. Chandra X-Ray Telescope Hi there, Im the Chadra X-ray telescope. This image is of me just before I was carried into orbit by thespace shuttle. I need to be up therebecause the Earths atmosphereabsorbs x-rays. One of my most famous discoveries was a jet of x-rays emanating from a Supermassive Black Hole in the constellation of Sagittarius. 13. Hubble Space Telescope (1990 - )Hello, Im the Hubble Space Telescope! I was launched in 1990 as an orbiting optical telescope. Ihave a 4m mirror which has allowed me to capture some stunning images of deep space (like these ones on the right). I still need periodic maintenance as I was originally only designed to work for fiveyears! 14. Telescopes:Observing SpaceA Telescope is a device which makes things visible to thenaked eye which we would not normally be able to see.The Earths atmosphere absorbs almost allelectromagnetic radiation (except light, ultraviolet andradio waves). This limits the amount of information wecan collect from space.We need to use satellites to collect data on thewavelengths of the spectrum that are absorbed high inthe atmosphere. We can also use orbiting opticaltelescopes to get clearer views of deep space. Theseorbiting observatories have been used to discover gammaray bursts, pulsars, black holes and extra solar planets.


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