Telescopes have done more to transform man’s understanding of space than most other inventions. This is what makes them so interesting. Take a look below for 18 awesome and fun facts about telescopes.
1. People always credit Galileo with the invention of the telescope but actually, that isn’t true. That honour goes to Hans Lippershey. He invented the telescope in 1608.
2. Speaking of Galileo, he was the first person to use the telescope for astronomy. It was his innovative work that led to the discovery of Jupiter’s satellites. His eventual blindness is attributed to the fact that he used the telescope to look directly at the Sun.
3. For a time, the biggest telescope was the Leviathan (Parsontown). It weighed 40 tons and it came into existence in 1845, built by the Earl of Rosse. But it had to be decommissioned due to poor weather.
4. The most famous telescope at the moment is the Hubble telescope. It was officially launched in 1990, seven years later than planned. There were delays. The light-collecting mirror wasn’t polished to the right accuracy. This issue was only fully corrected in 1993.
5. The first telescopes were used by merchants to see approaching trade ships. This supposedly gave them some sort of advantage that they could use to beat the competition.
6. Ever since its launch in the 1990s, scientists from other countries have been working night and day to produce a superior telescope to Hubble. A European-led team believes that they can deliver a telescope whose images are 15 times sharper by 2024.
7. NASA, which is responsible for Hubble, has no intention of losing the telescope race. Their goal is to put a radio telescope on the Moon by 2030, beating anything Europe could ever hope to achieve.
8. Work is being done in South Africa and Australia to deliver a radio telescope that will produce an exabyte of raw data every single day. if the telescope works as promised, the data it generates will exceed global internet traffic.
9. China already has a robotic telescope on the Moon. It has been there since 2013 and it is expected to remain in operation for three decades, gathering vital data.
10. The telescopes of today are operated remotely using computers and the internet.
11. Scientists can use the telescopes of the 21st Century to see 13 billion light-years away. This is the equivalent of looking back at the beginning of the universe.
12. The ‘Large Binocular Telescope’ is situated on Mt. Graham in Arizona. Not only is it one of the largest telescopes in the world but, as per the name, it looks like a giant pair of binoculars.
13. The Hubble Telescope has photographed every planet in our solar system except for Earth, which is too close to the telescope, and Mercury, which is too close to the Sun.
14. The Hubble telescope, which is in Earth’s orbit, is controlled by NASA personnel using radio signals. It was designed to perceive infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. The Sun and new stars emit ultraviolet light, so Hubble can observe them.
15. The most famous pictures to come from Hubble are the so-called Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula.
16. The biggest radio telescope in the world has a dish that spans 1,000 feet across. It is situated in the jungles of Arecibo in Puerto Rico.
17. The Catholic Church has two telescopes: one in the Vatican Observatory and the other at the Mount Graham International Observatory.
18. The Hubble Telescope is the size of a school bus, but it weighs 11 tons.