Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Galileo Galileï better known than Lipperhey or Janssen?

Galileo was one of the first to use the telescope for scientific purposes. Lipperhey and Janssen were not scientists, but artisans. In the beginning, the telescope was only used for military purposes. Galileo, however, directed his telescope on the planets and stars and discovered four bright moons near the planet Jupiter. As early as 1610 he published his observations in the book "Sidereus Nuncius". His observations caused a huge sensation. Galileo Galileï has also gone down in history as a celebrity for that reason.

What did this first telescope look like?

There are no images of the first telescope. It is known that the first viewer consisted of a hollow and a convex lens. This type is called the "Dutch viewer". The magnifications initially amounted to only 3 or 4 times. The first viewers (the word "telescope" did not exist in 1608) were mostly made of paper, covered with leather. The oldest known Dutch image of a telescope is in a book by Jacob Cats, "the Zeeusche Nachtegael" from 1623.

Where does the term "telescope" come from?

A telescope or binoculars is an optical instrument with which distant objects can be observed closer. The name comes from Greek and means "distant viewer". The term "telescope" was invented by Prince Frederick Sesi during a Galileo Galileo demonstration in Venice in 1611.

Who is the inventor?

Although there are several claimants, the oldest known evidence of a telescope is known from Johannes (Hans) Lipperhey. It is a patent application for a "buyse with which one can distant". His demonstration for Prince Maurits in 1608 is well documented.

Why did it take so long before the telescope was invented?

Glasses were sharpened in the Middle Ages. The quality of the glass, however, was not good. Experiments were done with the combination of lenses, but a clear, sharp and magnifying image was not obtained. Middelburg was the most important trading city in the Netherlands in the Golden Age, after Amsterdam. All kinds of outside influences came into the city via the port. You could say that at the beginning of the 17th century the best glass from Venice and the best grinding techniques from Germany came together in Middelburg. The existing lens sharpeners therefore had access to the best glass and the best technology for sharpening lenses. Also in Middelburg was the oldest glassworks in the Northern Netherlands, so good glass - desperately needed for good lenses - was available.

Where and when was the telescope invented?

In Middelburg in 1608. Although lenses were previously combined, this did not provide a useful viewer. Only from 1608 a well-usable viewer came into general use.

Why is the invention of the telescope so important?

Until the beginning of the 17th century, the prevailing (partly imposed by the church) rule that the earth was the center of the universe and man the crown on creation. Although some scientists rejected this theory for a long time, because observations on the movements of the planets were not in accordance with their supposed orbit around the earth, until the mid-17th century it was accepted that the earth revolved around the sun. The invention of the telescope provided evidence that the planets revolved around the sun. The phantoms of the planet Venus, for example, can only be explained when this planet revolves around the sun. We can safely say that the invention of the telescope has had just as much influence on people as the invention of printing.

Where exactly did the inventor (s) live in Middelburg?

The houses of Lipperhey and Janssen no longer exist. Janssen's house was on the Groenmarkt between two buttresses of the Nieuwe Kerk and was probably demolished in the 17th or 18th century. The first house of Lipperhey, "the Almond Bale" stood on the Kapoenstraat and in the 19th century has made way for a neo-Gothic extension to the Nieuwe Kerk. His second house, which stood right next to his first one and which he could buy and grow thanks to the order of Prince Maurits to make three viewers, was destroyed by war on May 17, 1940. That house bore the name "In De Drie Vare Gesichten", referring to the three viewers he made. The place where the house of Sacharias Janssen stood is to this day indicated by a memorial stone.

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