Telescope, reproduction of Galileo's telescope, leather / wood / glass, made by Antiques of Science & Technology, Wakefield, Massachusetts, United States of America, 2009
This is a replica of one of the first telescopes ever made. The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) heard of the discovery of a spyglass that could bring distant objects closer in 1609. He quickly set out to replicate the discovery and then to improve it with better and more suitable lenses. Galileo had to grind these lenses himself as they were outside the range offered by the spectacle makers of his time.
By November 1609 he had succeeded in building a telescope that could magnify 20 times. He turned this telescope to the sky, the first person to do so, and made a number of momentous discoveries. These were that the Moon is not the perfect heavenly sphere as espoused by the beliefs of the time but it had mountains and other features, that the Milky Way is made up of stars and, most importantly, that there are four satellites circling the planet Jupiter. He published these observations in a book called Siderius Nuncius or Sidereal Messenger and completely changed people's conception of the structure of the Universe.
There was opposition from those who refused to believe the observations. Part of the problem was that only Galileo had telescopes of sufficient quality to enable the observations to be made. To solve this he made or had made a number of presentation telescopes that he distributed to important personages such as princes. It is believed that the original of this replica telescope is one of these.
Dr Nick Lomb
Curator of Astronomy
The replica telescope is made by James and Rhoda Morris of Antiques of Science and Technology. They have measured the original (IMSS # 2428) at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy and tried to replicate it as much as possible. This includes polishing the lenses as the 980 mm focal length is not a standard size today and hand stamping the leather covering to match the pattern on the original telescope.
The original telescope at Florence is attributed to Galileo. He is believed to have made some of the lenses that he used though it is unknown whether it was the case with this telescope.