Galileo invented the telescope? False

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At the origin of the discovery

The ” Eyeglasses By the Italian scholar Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) it is considered the first astronomical instruments. However, they had undoubtedly seen the light of day before him in Holland.

In 1608, ophthalmologist Hans Lippershey was the first to file a patent application for the installation of two lenses that would allow this “To see distant things as if they were very close”. It is the invention of the telescope, but above all The invention of the diaphragm. This small disc made of cardboard allowed it to block out some of the outside light thus improving the image quality. In addition, the ophthalmologist was asked to adjust the instrument so that he could look inside with both eyes. What he did by creating the first microscope instruments.

These “glasses” offered 3 times magnification.

However, we can go back a bit in time: in the 1589 edition of the work natural magic (natural magic), there is a description of approach glasses, or ‘concave lenses’, which ‘make distant objects clearly visible’. The first use at that time was military to monitor enemy forces. The Lippershey diaphragm, by blocking outside light, would make it easier to observe the night sky.

However, although the invention of the telescope cannot be attributed to Galileo, he perfected the instrument by allowing it to magnify up to 30 times. Especially looks like he was the first to see interest Turn the telescope towards the sky. From 1610, he published his first notes in a small treatise on astronomy.

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In this way we can attribute to him the fact that he discovered that the surface of the Moon was not uniform, but made up of craters and mountains. These similarities with Earth fueled the first rumors of extraterrestrial life.

It is also known that he observed Jupiter, found that the planet has natural satellites orbiting around it. The four largest moons of Jupiter, still called Galilean moons to this day, have just been discovered.

His third major contribution was the discovery that the sun was rotating. In fact, he noticed sunspots on its surface that changed over time. These flaws proved that the Sun was not stationary, as it was supposed to.

These three observations were revolutionary at the time: they questioned ideas that had been entrenched for centuries.


Even if Galileo’s contribution to the improvement of the telescope and the development of modern astronomy is undeniable, we cannot attribute to him the invention of this instrument. Dutch optometrist Hans Lippershey was the first to apply for a patent, and he was himself inspired by the “approach glasses” we already knew were of interest to the military.

Photo: Painting by an unknown 18th century Italian artist / Welcome Images

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