Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Who Is the Inventor of the Telescope?

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Who Is the Inventor of the Telescope?

Article excerpt

Even after this long walk through many centuries, there still remains one last important question: Who receives credit as the true inventor of the telescope?

Based on modern legal conceptions, there is no doubt that it is Lipperhey. He was clearly the first inventor who convincingly demonstrated a real instrument. There is no evidence that Janssen had actually manufactured a real telescope to back up his claim that he could make one. In the minutes his name is not mentioned, and there is no indication that a sum was paid to him. Therefore we can assume the device he demonstrated on October 14 in The Hague did not convince the examiners, and was probably the one with the broken front lens which he had already shown to Fuchs von Bimbach at the Frankfurt autumn fair in September.

Nor was Metius able to make an instrument of sufficient quality, and the examiners recommended that he improve it because it did not perform as well as Lipperhey 's telescope. Both instruments seem to have been simple telescopic systems, with insufficient resolution, that had already been well known for many decades. Lipperhey received the order to make three sets of binoculars, or six telescopes. A binocular is a difficult arrangement of two telescopes of almost exact optical magnification and centering, for otherwise it would be impossible to look through the instrument. Lipperhey needed, therefore, to make pairs of lenses of exactly the same focal length with sufficient optical quality Every one of his three binoculars convinced and satisfied the examiners, who would not have given him the promised money without such results. There is thus no doubt that Lipperhey had understood and mastered the technical difficulties and conditions that had to be fulfilled to create a successful telescope. …

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