Evolution of Telescopes

A telescope is useful for looking at distant or remote objects by astronomers. Their size is significantly large and uses the curved mirrors to collect and focus light from the night sky. The evolution of telescopes is extremely interesting and filled with facts. Some of the high quality and superior minds of all the time, including Sir Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, and the great Edwin Hubble, have contributed over time to evolve and advance the telescopes to have a clear vision. 


The first telescope was invented back in 1608 through Hans Lippershey’s idea. Since then, within four hundred years of the revolutionary process, the telescopes have gone through broad and extensive revolutionary changes.
In 1609 Galileo became the first-ever person to bring the greatest invention known as telescopes to this fast running world.

Galileo invented telescopes that allowed the viewers to have a clear vision of the outer world. One could inspect and dig into the moon and its phases. He also provided comprehensive and thorough diagrams of the lunar landscape features. Along with that, he provided a brief description of the Milky Way, which was highly accurate. His modified telescope had a magnification around 20 times, which made his invention more unique and highly appreciated. However, the image produced by his telescopes was a little blurry and fizzy, and the telescope was considerably smaller in size. Still, it contributed to the evolution of telescopes. 

What came next?

Moving on and stepping into the modern era, telescopes got in better shapes and sized with increased accuracy with technological advancement. After the outstanding work done by Sir Galileo, many of the Europeans became curious and started working on more similar projects, according to their own needs and beliefs. One of the many, known as Kepler, came out with one of his own impressive inventions of a telescope, which was much more modified than the previous one in 1611. The keplerian telescope consisted of two convex lenses and had much better and improved magnification making it more accurate to use. However, the image produced was upside down. This made a greater room and space for further modification and improvisation of the object. 

The passion for contributing to astronomy and its featured products was continuously increasing. The interest developed in most astronomers after the first invention of the Galileo’s telescope. Many Europeans were keen to improve the object according to their own needs. This was an important part in the evolution of telescopes. 

What happened later? 

Later in 1655, Christian Huygens, inspired by Galileo’s great work and his keen interest in astronomy, led him to build the most powerful and well-built DIY telescope. The apparatus made by Christian presented an elaborated and comprehensive study of the planets and solar system. The greatest contribution he made in the field of astronomy was Huygens ocular and the aerial, or a tubeless, telescope, which also showed the great utility of micrometer. Adding to it, his telescope was more advanced as he upgraded and improved the grinding of lenses, which began in 1854. The final product sized 12 feet and 3.7 meters, through which one could see the shining moon that orbited Saturn.


Despite all the inventions that took place before regarding telescopes, one of the greatest of them all was presented by Sir Isaac Newton. He made his telescope unique and outstanding from others by making the use of mirrors instead of lenses. He believed that lenses only refract light and pass through, whereas mirrors reflect the light, making the vision clearer. As refraction results in chromatic aberration issues, he planned to develop a new idea instead of fixing it. His belief allowed him to develop reflecting telescopes, which displayed the color corrected and accurate image to the viewers. His greatest invention increased the color fidelity, accuracy, clarity, and depth of the image produced. In 1668, after several trials and errors, he finally brought his very own telescope into a physical form. The telescope was highly appreciated by the astronomers and became widespread in use.

The Newton made telescopes did not consist of any chromatic aberration, which means his belief regarding using mirrors instead of lenses was proved right. Moreover, his outstanding handmade model was extremely cheaper to build, and its manufacturing and assembly were comparatively easier to build than previous telescopes. The design and the shape of the newton’s telescope were considerably smaller and compact than its predecessors, making it portable to use and carry anytime anywhere. Adding to the amazing features of outstanding newton’s telescope, it had a wider view due to the shorter focal view. This made the incoming vision crisper and worth watching.

However, the honoring of the newton’s telescope resulted in being for a shorter time period. Later in 1672, Laurent Cassegrain boosted up the telescope’s design again with a second lens. The Laurent made telescopes used convex mirrors, which automatically improved the image’s quality, which could be seen through it.


For several years after the newton’s most popular invention of the telescope, there were many tiny and little adjustments were made with the telescopes, and no huge invention took place like John Hadley added minor details to the newton’s model according to his own needs and use. However, after several years of technology advancement and development, telescopes invention took a turn in 1729.  An English man, fairly known as Chester Moore Hall came up with the idea of removing the chromatic aberration, which was caused by the refracting lens. Like Newton, he did not make the use of the mirrors. Instead, he came up with a new form of lens.  Chester’s established new types of lenses consisted of two types of glass: the crown and flint sandwiched together. 

With this invention, Chester clearly proved sir Isaac Newton wrong that the chromatic aberration cannot be fixed by using the refracting lens but only can be done by mirrors that use reflection. After several years of research and study, especially on human eyes, Chester was able to find out that achromatic lens are possible at some point. After many trials and errors, there was a change. Moore was able to find out the perfect combination of a crown and flint glass that met his definite requirements for telescopes. In 1729 Chester was able to bring a telescope. It made the use of lenses instead of mirrors. This helped to produce clear and crisp visuals of the outside world with no color distortion or chromatic aberration. 


Moving on, in the 1800s, the concept of the giant telescope took place. The Newton made telescopes was enlarged, and many little amendments were made to it for its perfect use. Later on, in 1897, the world’s largest refracting telescope came into being. It used the biggest possible lenses around 102 diameters. However, after using enlarged telescopes, many of the inventors and astronomers thought something. If the telescope has to be large and work accurately, it should use mirrors instead of lenses. This would help to avoid any possible error.

Later in the 1930s, Karl Guthe Jansky came up with the idea of radio telescopes, which was brought to a whole new level by Lowell in the upcoming years. After facing financial and technical problems for several periods, there was a change. Lowell finally made a product that sized 250 foot and 76 meters diameter dish radio telescope. This could point at any corner and part of the sky. The result would be a clear vision of the sky, stars, and planets.

Later on, NASA stepping up the game in the building telescopes by several astronomers and engineers, made the Hubble space telescope, which resulted in being the first telescope launched in space. It was launched in low orbit areas, helping in astronomy research purposes. Along with the Hubble space telescope, the Compton gamma-ray observatory was another massive success for NASA. It was a revolutionary space telescope which was sent into space to detect photons. Over these years, NASA was quite successful in launching and producing various enlarged telescopes. This helped them research more and more about the outer world and the things existing there.
Between the time period of 1990 to 1996, the world’s second-largest telescope came into handy, known as W.M. Keck Observatory, which consisted of 10 meters huge primary mirrors. To date, NASA is a major player in the evolution of telescopes. 


With the advancement of technology and the keen to learn new things, the infrared telescoped took place after radio telescopes. It became the largest infrared telescope to be deployed in space to find the coldest and dustiest objects out there. This contributed greatly towards the evolution of telescopes. Their size is significantly large and uses the curved mirrors to collect and focus light from the dark night sky.

However, within all these hardworking and groundbreaking projects, the telescopes have evolved for better purposes and benefits for most of the astronomers and young learners. With the coming years and the advancement of technologies, many more adjustments can be made in the telescopes. This will make it much more beneficial for future purposes to deploy it in space or for research purposes. Rest assured, greater evolution of telescopes is on our way!