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  • Elizabeth Cocking

Did you know? Telescopes

This month ……. Telescopes. From the Greek “tele” meaning far, and “skopein” meaning to look or see

Telescopes aren’t just for astronomical observation. In the early days they were commonly used for terrestrial observation, in particular naval warfare. Merchants also used them to get advance warning of their supply ships approaching.

LBT credit NASA

Telescopes come in different shapes and sizes. The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT - pictured above), located on Mt. Graham in Arizona, USA is like a giant pair of binoculars, consisting of two side-by-side telescopes, each 8.4 metres across. The Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico is a 305 metre dish shaped radio telescope built into a mountain range. The largest telescope in the world from 1845 until 1917, weighing about 12 tons, was the Leviathan of Parsontown. Situated in Ireland it was built by the 3rd Earl of Rosse.

Many amateur and professional astronomers no longer use a telescope in the traditional method of sitting outside looking into the eyepiece to view the night sky. Many telescopes today can be controlled remotely from an observatory or from home.

And finally …….

No. Galileo did not invent the telescope !

While he was among the first to turn his telescope towards the skies to observe Jupiter and its moons, the credit for inventing the telescope is usually given to Hans Lippershey, a Dutch spectacle maker who took out a 30-year patent for his instrument, which he called a kijker or “looker”, in 1608.

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