Who Invented the Telescope?

The telescope is an indispensable tool for studying and observing the heavenly bodies. Without it, we are blind, literally and figuratively, to the workings of the universe beyond our planet. With its importance, it is then an interesting question to ask: who invented the telescope?


Asking the question is not that east to answer primarily because unlike other inventions, the telescope was not designed, developed, and made first by a single individual. Rather it was a tool that was in continuous development in its early years. This is when asking who invented the telescope, it is important to discuss the different people who contributed greatly to its creation.

First in the list of the people said to be ones who invented the telescope and/or contributed greatly to its development are Jacob Metius, Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen, Dutch reading glass makers. Because of their proficiency and precision in working with glass and producing lenses, each of them were the able to independently produce working refracting telescopes, at most weeks from each other. Refracting telescopes are the earliest form of telescopes, and they rely on a lens in forming an image. Although all of the three can be considered the pioneers of telescopes, Lippershey is widely credited to be the one who invented the telescope since he was the one who was published first.


Galileo is another important figure in the history of the telescope. He greatly improved on the design of the three Dutch inventors and made his own telescopes. Using his improved design, he was bale to do historic scientific works which revolutionized scientific thinking forever.

Another revolutionary in the field of science, Isaac Newton, can also be considered as one of the people who invented the telescope since he was the first one to make a reflecting telescope, a new kind different from the refraction telescope made by the three Dutch glass makers. Instead of using only lenses to magnify faraway objects, reflecting telescopes also utilizes mirrors to greatly magnify the focus. It was in the year 1688 did Sir Isaac Newton completed the reflecting telescope (which was named after him) – the Newtonian reflector.

Modern day telescopes today are not limited to the use of lenses and mirrors and are capable of looking into galaxies far, far away. These achievements, however, would not have been possible if not for men like Lippershey, Galileo, and Newton, people who invented the telescope and allowed us to peer into the deep beyond.