Online Encyclopedia

TELESCOPE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 561 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
TELESCOPE, an optical instrument employed to view distant objects. The term " photographic telescope " has been applied to instruments employed to record the appearance of celestial objects by photography. The word was coined by Demiscianus, a Greek scholar, at the request of Federigo Cesi, founder of the Accademia dei Lincei, from the Greek riP e, far, and aKo1rwv, to see. It was used by Galileo as early as 1612, and came into English use much later, when it supplanted trunk and cylinder, the terms hitherto used to denote the telescope. HISTORY The credit of the discovery of the telescope has been a fruitful subject of discussion. Thus, because Democritus announced that the Milky Way is composed of vast multitudes of stars, it has been maintained that he could only have been led to form such an opinion from actual examination of the heavens with a telescope. Other passages from the Greek and Latin authors have similarly been cited to prove that the telescope was known to the ancients. But, as has been remarked by Dr Robert Grant (History of Physical Astronomy, p. 515), we are no more warranted in drawing so important a conclusion from casual remarks, however sagacious, than we should be justified in stating that Seneca was in possession of the discoveries of Newton because he predicted that comets would one day be found to revolve in periodic orbits. William Molyneux, in his Dioptrica Nova (1692), p. 256, declares his opinion that Roger Bacon (who died c. 1294) " did perfectly well understand all kinds of optic glasses, and knew likewise the method of combining them so as to compose some such instrument as our telescope." He cites a passage from Bacon's Opus Majus, p. 377 of Jebb's edition, 1733, translated as follows: " Greater things than these may be performed by refracted vision. For it is easy to understand by the canons above mentioned that the greatest objects may appear exceedingly small, and the contrary, also that the most remote objects may appear just at hand, and the converse; for we can give such figures to transparent bodies, and dispose them in such order with respect to the eye and the objects, that the rays shall be refracted and bent towards any place we please, so that we shall see the object near at hand or at any distance under any angle we please. And thus from an incredible distance we may read the smallest letters, and may number the smallest particles of dust and sand, by reason of the greatness of the angle under which we see them. . . . Thus also the sun, moon and stars may be made to descend hither in appearance, and to be visible over the heads of our enemies, and many things of the like sort, which persons unacquainted with such things would refuse to believe." Molyneux also cites from Bacon's Epistola ad Parisiensem, " Of the Secrets of Art and Nature," chap. 5: " Glasses or diaphanous bodies may be so formed that the most remote objects may appear just at hand, and the contrary, so that we may read the smallest letters at an incredible distance, and may number things, though never so small, and may make the stars also appear as near as we please." These passages certainly prove that Bacon had very nearly, if not perfectly, arrived at theoretical proof of the possibility of constructing a telescope and a microscope; but his writings give no account of the trial of an actual telescope, nor any detailed results of the application of a telescope to an examination of the heavens. It has been pointed out by Dr Robert Smith, in his Complete System of Opticks, that Bacon imagines some effects of telescopes which cannot be performed by them, and his conclusion is that Bacon never actually looked through a telescope. Giambattista della Porta, in his Magia Naturalis, printed in 1558, makes the following remarkable statement: " If you do but know how to join the two (viz.; the concave and the convex glasses) rightly together, you will see both remote and near objects larger than they otherwise appear, and withal very distinct." Wolfius infers from this passage that its author was the first actual constructor of a telescope, and it appears not improbable that by happy accident Porta really did make some primitive form of telescope which excited the wonder of his friends. Here, however, his interest in the matter appears to have ceased, and he was unable either to appreciate the importance of his discovery or to describe the means by which the object was attained. Kepler, who examined Porta's account of his concave and convex lenses by desire of his patron the emperor Rudolph, declared that it was perfectly unintelligible. Poggendorff (Gesch. der Physik, p. 134) throws considerable doubt on the originality of Porta's statement. Thomas Digges, in his Stratioticus, p. 3J9, published in 1579, states that his father, Leonard Digges, " among other curious practices had a method of discovering by perspective glasses set at due angles all objects pretty far distant that the sun shone upon, which lay in the country round .about," and that this was by the help of a manuscript book of Roger Bacon of Oxford, who he conceived was the only man besides his father who knew it. There is also the following passage in the Pantometria (bk. i. chap. 21) of Leonard Digges 1 (originally published by his son Thomas in 1571, and again in 1591) : " Marvellous are the conclusions that may be performed by glasses concave and convex, of circular and parabolic forms, using for multiplication of beams sometime the aid of glasses transparent, which, by fraction, should unite or dissipate the images or figures presented by the reflection of other." He then describes the effects of magnification from a combination of lenses or mirrors, adding: " But of these conclusions I minde not here to intreate, having at large in a volume2 by itselfe opened the miraculous effects of perspective glasses." It is impossible to discredit the significance of these quotations, for the works in which they occur were published more than twenty years before the original date claimed for the discovery of the telescope in Holland. But it is quite certain that previous to 1600 the telescope was unknown, except possibly to individuals who failed to see its practical importance, and who confined its use to " curious practices " or to demonstrations of " natural magic." The practical discovery of the instrument was certainly made in Holland about 16o8, but the credit of the original invention has been claimed on behalf of three individuals, Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Jansen, spectacle-makers in Middelburg, and James Metius of Alkmaar (brother of Adrian Metius the mathematician). Descartes, in his treatise on Dioptrics (1637), attributes the discovery to Metius " about thirty years ago," whilst Schyraelus de Rheita, a Capuchin friar, in his Oculus Enoch et Eliae (Antwerp, 1645), gives the credit to Lippershey about 1609. Peter Borel, ' He died about 1570. His son alludes to his untimely death in the preface to the Pantometria. $ There is no further trace of this volume.physician to the king of France, published at The Hague, in 1655, a work De Vero Telescopii Invent ore. He was assisted in its preparation by William Borel, Dutch envoy at the court of France, and the latter declares, as the result of patient investigation, that Jansen and his father were the real inventors of the telescope in 161o, and that Lippershey only made a telescope after hints accidentally communicated to him of the details of Jansen's invention. But the most trustworthy information on the subject is to be got from the researches of J. H. van Swinden.' Briefly summarized, this evidence is as follows. In the library of the university of Leyden, amongst the MSS. of Huygens there is an original copy of a document (dated 17th October 1608) addressed to the stateseneral by Jacob Andrianzoon (the same individual who is called Tames Metius by Descartes), petitioning for the exclusive right of selling an instrument of his invention by which distant objects appear larger and more distinct. He states that he had discovered the instrument by accident when engaged in making experiments, and had so far perfected it that distant objects were made as visible and distinct by his instrument as could be done with the one which had been lately offered to the states by a citizen and spectacle-maker of Middelburg. Among the acts of the states-general pre-served in the government archives at The Hague, Van Swinden found that on 2nd October 1608 the assembly of the states took into consideration the petition of Hans Lippershey, spectacle-maker, a native of Wesel and an inhabitant of Middelburg, inventor of an instrument for seeing at a distance. On 4th October a committee was appointed to test the instrument, and on the 6th of the same month the assembly agreed to give Lippershey 90o florins for his instrument. Further, on the 15th December of the same year they examined an instrument invented by Lippershey at their request to see with both eyes, and gave him orders to execute two similar instruments at goo florins each; but, as many other persons had knowledge of this new invention to see at a distance, they did not deem it expedient to grant him an exclusive privilege to sell such instruments. The dates of these documents dispose effectually of Borel's statement that Lippershey borrowed the ideas of Jansen in i61o. They also prove that, whilst Metius was in possession of a telescope, with which he may have experimented, about the time when Lippershey presented his application for patent rights, yet he makes no pretension that Lippershey borrowed the invention from him. The conclusion is that Lippershey was the first person who independently invented the telescope, and at the same time made the instrument known to the world. The common story is that Lippershey, happening one day, whilst holding a spectacle-lens in either hand, to direct them towards the steeple of a neighbouring church, was astonished, on looking through the nearer lens, to find that the weathercock appeared nearer and more distinct. He fitted the lenses in a tube, in order to adjust and preserve their relative distances, and thus constructed his first telescope. But doubt may be thrown on this traditional account owing to the further statement that the image of the weathercock so viewed was seen turned upside down. All the original Dutch telescopes were composed of a convex and a concave lens, and telescopes so constructed do not invert. The inverting telescope, composed of two convex lenses, was a later invention; still it is not impossible that the original experiment was made with two convex lenses. Telescopes seem to have been made in Holland in consider-able numbers soon after the date of their invention, and rapidly found their way over Europe. Sirturus, in his De Telescopic (1618), states that " a Frenchman proceeded to Milan in the month of May 1609 and offered a telescope for sale to Count di Fuentes "; and Lorenzi Pigorna writes,4 under date 31st August 1609, that " Galileo had been appointed lecturer at Padua for life on account of a perspective like the one which was sent from Flanders to Cardinal Borghese." Simon Marius, the German astronomer, appears to have made astronomical observations in 1609 with a telescope which he procured from Holland, and Professor S. P. Rigaud of Oxford found from the MSS. of Harriot, the mathematician, that he had been making astronomical observations with a Dutch telescope as early as July 1609. Galileo, in his Nuncius Sidereus, states that, happening to be in Venice about the month of May 16o9, he heard that a Belgian had invented a perspective instrument by means of which distant objects appeared nearer and larger, and that he discovered its construction by considering the effects of refraction. In his Saggiatore Galileo states that he solved the problem of the construction of a telescope the first night after his return to Padua from Venice, and made his first telescope next day by fitting a convex lens in one extremity of a leaden tube and a concave lens in the other one. A few days afterwards, having succeeded in making a better telescope than s See Dr G. Moll of Utrecht, in Journ. Roy. Inst., vol. i., 1831. 4 Lease d' Uomini Illustri, p. 112 (Venice, 1744). the first, he took it to Venice, where he communicated the details of his invention to the public, and presented the instrument itself to the doge Leonardo Donato, sitting in full council. The senate, in return, settled him for life in his lectureship at Padua and doubled his salary, which was previously 500 florins and which then became treble that which any of his predecessors had enjoyed. Galileo may thus claim to have invented the telescope independently, but not till he had heard that others had done so. In fact the time was ripe; and, as often happens in similar circumstances, only a hint was necessary to complete the latent chain of thought. Galileo devoted all his time to improving and perfecting the telescope. Knowing the theory of his instrument, and possessed of much practical skill, coupled with unwearied patience, he conquered the difficulties of grinding and polishing the lenses, and soon succeeded in producing telescopes of greatly increased power. His first telescope magnified three diameters; but he soon made instruments which magnified eight diameters, and finally one that magnified thirty-three diameters.' With this last instrument he discovered in 1610 the satellites of Jupiter, and soon afterwards the spots on the sun, the phases of Venus, and the hills and valleys on the moon. He demonstrated the rotation of the satellites of Jupiter round the planet, and gave rough predictions of their configurations, proved the rotation of the sun on its axis, established the general truth of the Copernican system as compared with that of Ptolemy, and fairly routed the fanciful dogmas of the philosophers. These brilliant achievements, together with the immense improvement of the instrument under the hands of Galileo, overshadowed in a great degree the credit due to the original discoverer, and led to the universal adoption of the name of the Galilean telescope for the form of the instrument invented by Lippershey. Kepler first explained the theory and some of the practical advantages of a telescope constructed of two convex lenses in his Catoptrics (1611). The first person who actually constructed a telescope of this form was the Jesuit Christoph Scheiner, who gives a description of it in his Rosa Ursina (1630). William Gascoigne was the first who practically appreciated the chief advantages of the form of telescope suggested by Kepler, viz., the visibility of the image of a distant object simultaneously with that of a small material object placed in the common focus of the two lenses. This led to his invention of the micrometer and his application of telescopic sights to astronomical instruments of precision (see MICROMETER). But it was not till about the middle of the 17th century that Kepler's telescope came into general use, and then, not so much because of the advantages pointed out by Gascoigne, but because its field of view was much larger than in the Galilean telescope. The first powerful telescopes of this construction were made by Huygens, after much labour, in which he was assisted by his brother. With one of these, of 12-ft. focal length, he discovered the brightest of Saturn's satellites (Titan) in 1655, and in 1659 he published his Systema Sat urnium, in which was given for the first time a true explanation of Saturn's ring, founded on observations made with the same instrument. The sharpness of image in Kepler's telescope is very inferior to that of the Galilean instrument, so that when a high magnifying power is required it becomes essential to increase the focal length. G. D. Cassini discovered Saturn's fifth satellite (Rhea) in 1672 with a telescope of 35 ft., and the third and fourth satellites in 1684 with telescopes made by Campani of too- and 136-ft. focal length. Huygens states that he and his brother made object-glasses of 170 and 210 ft. focal length, and he presented one of 123 ft. to the Royal Society of Londo''l. Adrien Auzout (d. 1691) and others are said to have made telescopes of from 300 to 600 ft. focus, but it does not appear that they were ever able to use them in practical observations. James Bradley, on 27th December 1722, actually measured the diameter of Venus with a telescope whose object-glass had a focal length of 212; ft. In these very long telescopes This last power could not be exceeded with advantage in this form of telescope till after the invention of the achromatic object-glass.no tube was employed, and they were consequently termed aerial telescopes. Huygens contrived some ingenious arrangements for directing such telescopes towards any object visible in the heavens—the focal adjustment and centring of the eye-piece being preserved by a braced rod connecting the object-glass and eye-piece. Other contrivances for the same purpose are described by Philippe de la Hire (Mom. de l'Acad., 1715) and by Nicolaus Hartsoeker (Miscel. Berol., 1710, vol. i. p. 261). Telescopes of such great length were naturally difficult to use, and must have taxed to the utmost the skill and patience of the observers. One cannot but pay a passing tribute of admiration to the men who, with such troublesome tools, achieved such results. Reflecting Telescopes: Until Newton's discovery of the different refrangibility of light of different colours, it was generally supposed that object-glasses of telescopes were subject to no other errors than those which arose from the spherical figure of their surfaces, and the efforts of opticians were chiefly directed to the construction of lenses of other forms of curvature. James Gregory, in his Optica Promota (1663), discusses the forms of images and objects produced by lenses and mirrors, and shows that when the surfaces of the lenses or mirrors are portions of spheres the images are curves concave towards the objective, but if the curves of the surfaces are conic sections the spherical aberration is corrected. He was well aware of the failures of all attempts to perfect telescopes by employing lenses of various forms of curvature, and accordingly proposed the form of reflecting telescope which bears his name. But Gregory, according to his own confession, had no practical skill; he could find no optician capable of realizing his ideas, and after some fruitless attempts was obliged to abandon all hope of bringing his telescope into practical use. Newton was the first to construct a reflecting telescope. When in 1666 he made his discovery of the different refrangibility of light of different colours, he soon perceived that the faults of the refracting telescope were due much more to this cause than to the spherical figure of the lenses. He over-hastily concluded from some rough experiments (Optics, bk. i. pt. ii. prop. 3) " that all refracting substances diverged the prismatic colours in a constant proportion to their mean refraction"; and he drew the natural conclusion " that refraction could not be produced without colour," and therefore " that no improvement could he expected from the refracting telescope " (Treatise on' Optics, p. 112). But, having ascertained by experiment that for all colours of light the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflexion, he turned his attention to the construction of reflecting telescopes. After much experiment he selected an alloy of tin and copper as the most suitable material for his specula, and he devised means for grinding and polishing them. He did not attempt the formation of a parabolic figure on account of the probable mechanical difficulties, and he had besides satisfied himself that the chromatic and not the spherical aberration formed the chief faults of previous telescopes. Newton's first telescope so far realized his expectations that he could see with its aid the satellites of Jupiter and the horns of Venus. Encouraged by this success, he made a second telescope of 63-in. focal length, with a magnifying power of 38 diameters, which he presented to the Royal Society of London in December 1671. A third form of reflecting telescope was devised in 1672 by Cassegrain (Journal des S4avans, 1672). No further practical advance appears to have been made in the design or construction of the instrument till the year 1723, when John Hadley (best known as the inventor of the sextant) presented to the Royal Society a reflecting telescope of the Newtonian construction, with a metallic speculum of 6-in. aperture and 628-in. focal length, having eye-pieces magnifying up to 230 diameters. The instrument was examined by Pound and Bradley, the former of whom reported upon it in Phil. Trans., 1723, No. 378, p. 382. After remarking that Newton's telescope " had lain neglected these fifty years," they stated that Hadley had sufficiently shown " that this noble invention does not consist in bare theory." They compared its performance with that of the object-glass of 123-ft. focal length presented to the Royal Society by Huygens, and found that Hadley's reflector " will bear such a charge as to make it magnify the object as many times as the latter with its due charge, and that it represents objects as distinct, though not altogether so clear and bright... . Notwithstanding this difference in the brightness of the objects, we were able with this reflecting telescope to see whatever we have hitherto discovered with the Huygenian, particularly the transits of Jupiter's satellites and their shadows over his disk, the black list in Saturn's ring, and the edge of his shadow cast on his ring. We have also seen with it several times the five satellites of Saturn, in viewing of which this telescope had the advantage of the Huygenian at the time when we compared them; for, being in summer, and the Huygenian telescope being managed without a tube, the twilight prevented us from seeing in this some of these small objects which at the same time we could discern with the reflecting telescope." Bradley and Molyneux, having been instructed by Hadley in his methods of polishing specula, succeeded in producing some telescopes of considerable power, one of which had a focal length of 8 ft.; and, Molyneux having communicated these methods to Scarlet and Hearn, two London opticians, the manufacture of telescopes as a matter of business was commenced by them (Smith's Oplicks, bk. iii. ch. 1). But it was reserved for James Short of Edinburgh to give practical effect to Gregory's original idea. Born at Edinburgh in 1710 and originally educated for the church, Short attracted the attention of Maclaurin, professor of mathematics at the university, who permitted him about 1732 to make use of his rooms in the college buildings for experiments in the construction of telescopes. In Short's first telescopes the specula were of glass, as suggested by Gregory, but he afterwards used metallic specula only, and succeeded in giving to them true parabolic and elliptic figures. Short then adopted telescope-making as his profession, which he practised first in Edinburgh and after-wards in London. All Short's telescopes were of the Gregorian form, and some of them retain even to the present day their original high polish and sharp definition. Short died in London in 1768, having realized a considerable fortune by the exercise of his profession. Achromatic Telescope.—The historical sequence of events now brings us to the discovery of the achromatic telescope. The first person who succeeded in making achromatic refracting telescopes seems to have been Chester Moor Hall, a gentleman of Essex. He argued that the different humours of the human eye so refract rays of light as to produce an image on the retina which is free from colour, and he reasonably argued that it might be possible to produce a like result by combining lenses composed of different refracting media.' After devoting some time to the inquiry he found that by combining lenses formed of different kinds of glass the effect of the unequal refrangibility of light was corrected, and in 1733 he succeeded in constructing telescopes which exhibited objects free from colour. One of these instruments of only 20-in. focal length had an aperture of 21 in. Hall was a man of independent means, and seems to have been careless of fame; at least he took no trouble to communicate his invention to the world. At a trial in Westminster Hall about the patent rights granted to John Dollond (Watkin v. Dollond),2 Hall was admitted to be The same argument was employed by Gregory more than fifty years previously, but had been followed by no practical result. The lens of the human eye is not achromatic. 2 At a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society held on 9th May 1886 a legal document, signed by Chester Moor Hall, was presented by R. B. Prosser of the Patent Office to the society. On the same occasion A. C. Ranyard made the following interesting statement respecting Hall:—_ " Some years ago very little was known about Moor Hall. It was known that, about seven years after the patent for making achromatic object-glasses was granted to Dollond, his claim to the invention was disputed by other instrument-makers, amongst them by a Mr Champness, an instrument-maker of Cornhill, who began to infringe the patent, alleging that John Dollond was not the real inventor, and that such telescopes had been made twenty-five years before the granting of his patent by Mr Moor Hall. John Dollond, to whom the Copley medal of the Royal Society had beenthe first inventor of the achromatic telescope; but it was ruled by Lord Mansfield that " it was not the person who locked his invention in his scrutoire that ought to profit for such invention, but he who brought it forth for the benefit of mankind."3 In 1747 Leonhard Euler communicated to the Berlin Academy of Sciences a memoir in which he endeavoured to prove the possibility of correcting both the chromatic and the spherical aberration of an object-glass. Like Gregory and Hall, he argued that, since the various humours of the human eye were so combined as to produce a perfect image, it should be possible by suitable combinations of lenses of different refracting media to construct a perfect object-glass. Adopting a hypothetical law of the dispersion of differently coloured rays of light, he proved analytically the possibility of constructing an achromatic object-glass composed of lenses of glass and water. But all his efforts to produce an actual object-glass of this construction were fruitless—a failure which he attributed solely to the difficulty of procuring lenses worked precisely to the requisite curves (Mem. Acad. Berlin, 1753). Dollond admitted the accuracy of Euler's analysis, but disputed his hypothesis on the grounds that it was purely a theoretical assumption, that the theory was opposed to the results of Newton's experiments on the refrangibility of light, and that it was impossible to determine a physical law from analytical reasoning alone (Phil. Trans., 1753, p. 289). In 1754 Euler communicated to the Berlin Academy a further memoir, in which, starting from the hypothesis that light consists of vibrations excited in an elastic fluid by luminous bodies, and that the difference of colour of light is due to the greater or less frequency of these vibrations in a given time, he deduced his previous results. He did not doubt the accuracy of Newton's experiments quoted by Dollond, because he asserted that the difference between the law deduced by Newton and that which he assumed would not be rendered sensible by such an experiment.' Dollond did not reply to this memoir, but soon after-wards he received an abstract of a memoir by Samuel Klingenstierna, the Swedish mathematician and astronomer, which led him to doubt the accuracy of the results deduced by Newton on the dispersion of refracted light. Klingenstierna showed from purely geometrical considerations, fully appreciated by Dollond, that the results of Newton's experiments could not be brought into harmony with other universally accepted facts of refraction. Like a practical man, Dollond at once put his doubts to the test of experiment, confirmed the conclusions of Klingenstierna, discovered " a difference far beyond his hopes in the refractive qualities of different kinds of glass with respect to their divergency of colours," and was thus rapidly led to the construction of object-glasses in which first the chromatic and afterwards the spherical aberration were corrected (Phil. Trans., 1758, p. 733). We have thus followed somewhat minutely the history of the gradual process by which Dollond arrived independently at his invention of the refracting telescope, because it has been asserted that he borrowed the idea from others. Montucla, given for his invention, was the dead, and his son brought an action for infringing the patent against Champness. There is no report of the case, but the facts are referred to in the reports of subsequent cases. It appears that workmen who had been employed by Mr Moor Hall were examined, and proved that they had made achromatic object-glasses as early as 1733. Dollond's patent was not set aside, though the evidence with regard to the prior manufacture was accepted by Lord Mansfield, who tried the case, as having been satisfactorily proved . . . Mr Hall was a bencher of the Inner Temple, and was alive at the time of the action. He was a man of some property, and is spoken of on hits tombstone as an excellent lawyer and mathematician. He was not a fellow of the Royal Society, but must certainly have known of the gift of the Copley medal to Dollond. It is very curious the conflicting evidence we have to reconcile, but I think the balance of evidence is in favour of there having been a prior invention of achromatic object-glasses before the date of Dollond's patent" (Astron. Register, May 1886; see also the Observatory for same date). 2 Gentleman's Magazine, 1790, part ii. p, 89o. ' For a good account of this controversy, see Dr H. Servus, Geschichte des Fernrohrs, P. 77 seq. (Berlin, 1886). in his Idistoire des Mathbmatiques (pp. 448-440, gives the following footnote, communicated to him by Lalande:--- " Cc fut Chestermonhall " (an obvious misprint for Chester Moor Hall) qui, vers 1750, eut l'idec des lunettes achromatiques. II s'adressoit a Ayscough' qui faisoit travaillir Bass. Dollond ayant cu besoin de Bass pour un verre que demandoit le duc d'Yorck, Bass lui fit voir du crown-glass et du flint-glass. Hall donna une lunette a Ayscough, qui la montra a plusieurs personnes; it en donna la construction a Bird, qui n'en tint pas compte. Dollond en profits. Dans le proves qu'il y eut entre Dollond et Watkin, au bane du roi, cela fut prouee; mais Dollond gagna, parce qu'il etoit le premier qui eIIt fait connoitre les lunettes achromatiques." It is clearly established that Hall was the first inventor of the achromatic telescope; but Dollond did not borrow the invention from Hall without acknowledgment in the manner suggested by Lalande. His discovery was beyond question an independent one. The whole history of his researches proves how fully he was aware of the conditions necessary for the attainment of achromatism in refracting telescopes, and he may be well excused if he so long placed implicit reliance on the accuracy of experiments made by so illustrious a philosopher as Newton. His writings sufficiently show that but for this confidence he would have arrived sooner at a discovery for which his mind was fully prepared. It is, besides, impossible to read Dollond's memoir (Phil. Trans., 1758, p. 733) without being impressed with the fact that it is a truthful account, not only of the successive steps by which he independently arrived at his discovery, but also of the logical processes by which these steps were successively suggested to his mind. The triple object-glass, consisting of a combination of two convex lenses of crown glass with a concave flint lens between them, was introduced in 1765 by Peter, son of John Dollond, and many excellent telescopes of this kind were made by him. The limits of this article do not permit a further detailed historical statement of the various steps by which the powers of the telescope were developed. Indeed, in its practical form the principle of the instrument has remained unchanged from the time of the Dollonds to the present day; and the history of its development may be summed up as consisting not in new optical discoveries but in utilizing new appliances for figuring and polishing, improved material for specula and lenses, more refined means of testing, and more perfect and convenient methods of mounting. About the year 1774 William Herschel, then a teacher of music in Bath, began to occupy his leisure hours with the construction of specula, and finally devoted himself entirely to their construction and use. In 1778 he had selected the chef-d'oeuvre of some 400 specula which he made for the celebrated instrument of 7-ft. focal length with which his early brilliant astronomical discoveries were made. In 1783 he completed his reflector of 184 in. aperture and 20-ft. focus, and in 1789 his great reflector of 4-ft. aperture and 4o-ft. focal length. The fame of these instruments was rapidly spread by the brilliant discoveries which their maker's genius and per-severance accomplished by their aid. The reflecting telescope became the only available tool of the astronomer when great light grasp was requisite, as the difficulty of procuring disks of glass (especially of flint glass) of suitable purity and homogeneity limited the dimensions of the achromatic telescope. It was in vain that the French Academy of Sciences offered prizes for perfect disks of optical flint glass. Some of the best chemists and most enterprising glass-manufacturers exerted their utmost efforts without succeeding in producing perfect disks of more than 3 z in. in diameter. All the large disks were crossed by striae, or were otherwise deficient in the necessary homogeneity and purity. The subsequent history of the development of the art of manufacturing glass disks for telescopic objectives will be found in the article GLASS: § Optical.
End of Article: TELESCOPE
[back]
TELEPHONE (Gr. rjXs, far, and dxwvr7, voice)
[next]
TELESIA [mod. Telese]

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.