How Did Astronomical Telescopes Evolve To Become Bigger and More Powerful To See Deeper Into Space?

Galileo built many telescopes, each more powerful than the last, and in 1609 he was the first to use the instrument, called “Galileo’s ladder”, to study the sky.

The great astronomer Sir Isaac Newton modified Galileo’s telescope by using mirrors instead of lenses.

A musician and amateur astronomer named William Herschel, who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781, recognized that the bigger the mirrors were, the more powerful the instrument would be.

In the twentieth century, telescope technology has exploded, but the basic idea that bigger is better still guides its development.

The most recent radical improvement in viewing space through telescopes is our ability to send telescopes beyond Earth’s atmosphere and record images we could never hope to see from our planet.