Happy 400th Birthday to the Telescope

Hans Lippershey announced his telescope on October 2, 1608.  Quite a few sites around the web are celebrating that fact with fascinating histories, while other sites look to the future describing colossus telescopes to see first light in the next decade.  Astronomy is truly going through a renaissance right now, and it’s a very exciting time to study it.

A cool virtual way to play with a telescope is to download the free World Wide Telescope from Microsoft.  It allows you to learn the sky and see collections of astronomical photographs at the same time.

Finally, as a way to show your appreciation to astronomy and help bring back the sense of wonder of the night sky, take a look at the International Dark-Sky Association.  One reason why you may never have wanted to use a telescope is because most people never see the stars anymore.  Treat yourself someday.  Take a vacation where you can find natural dark skies.  Look up.  You will be amazed.

JWH – 9-5-8

3 thoughts on “Happy 400th Birthday to the Telescope”

  1. Fantastic post, thank you so much for the links, I will be checking them out!

    A year ago in March my wife and I reserved an old farmhouse in south central Missouri that is a bed and breakfast. The reason we chose to go particularly is that we were told just how amazing the stars were at night out there in the middle of nowhere. While we had a really lovely time, and we did, we were so disappointed because it rained the whole time. I so wanted to see stars the way they looked growing up in the Nebraska countryside but it was not to be. Oh well, maybe next time.

    The word ‘telescope’ always brings to mind Galileo, primarily because I read the excellent (in my opinion anyway) book Galileo’s Daughter several years ago. Have you read it? It is by Dava Sobel and is an interesting look at a man at the crux of the debate regarding faith and science. I honestly have no idea if you would find it interesting or not but it is a book I really enjoyed and it made a big impact on me when I read it.

  2. I did read, well listen to, Galilio’s Daugher and was very impressed. It got me into thinking about that time period and I bought and read Aristotle’s Children, about how Greek thought came to renaissance thinkers via the Catholic Church. I’ve since bought, but haven’t read yet, the history of the telescope, and I got from The Teaching Company, History of Science 1700-1900. I wished I had more time because I’d like to read a lot of books about 1300-1800. Most of my reading, either fiction or non-fiction, has been about time after 1800.

    Wasn’t it an awful shame how his daughter was treated? I would love to read Maria Celestes’ letters to Galilio. Her story would make a great movie.

  3. I had a vague idea that we may have talked about this before. Glad to hear that you enjoyed reading/listening to it. Her story would indeed make a great film.

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