HISTORY OF THE TELESCOPE -

A VISUAL ESSAY


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    The evolution of the telescope is described here in visual terms. The reader is presented with examples of telescopes that are representative of the state of evolution of the science of astronomy over the past five centuries. Some of the earliest instruments are not telescopes in the usual sense, but they were the tools of the astronomers who used them for much the same purposes as the more formally recognizable telescopes that followed and for that reason constitute an important part of the observational tradition within astronomy.

    The evolution of the telescope was neither straight forward, nor unidirectional. In fact, two distinctly different traditions emerged in astronomy that reflected the alternative uses to which telescopes might be put. The evolution of the telescope within these traditions reflected the technical demands extant within that tradition to a great extent. The intent of this visual essay is to make clear those differences by simply portraying them in the instruments themselves. The reader is therefore urged to examine these pictures in the light of the separate requirements of each tradition in order. Review of a short essay attached on the two traditions in astronomy may be helpful in interpreting that evolutionary process.