Books  General Natural History  History of Science 

The Origins of the Telescope

By: Albert Van Helden (Editor), Sven Dupré (Editor), Rob van Gent (Editor), Huib Zuidervaart (Editor)

368 pages, 125 b/w photos and illustrations

Amsterdam University Press

Hardback | Feb 2011 | #204151 | ISBN-13: 9789069846156
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £33.99 $42/€38 approx

About this book

The origins of the telescope have been debated since the instrument's appearance in The Hague in 1608. Civic and national pride led local dignitaries, popular writers and scholars to search the archives and to put forward sharply divergent histories. Did the honour of the invention of the telescope belong to the Dutch, the Italians, the English or the Spanish. And if the city of Middelburg in the Netherlands was indeed the cradle of the instrument, was the "true inventor" Hans Lipperhey or his rival Zacharias Jansen? Over the past few decades, a group of historians and scientists have discovered new documents, re-examined familiar ones, and tested early lenses and telescopes. The Origins of the Telescope examines the evidence available and proposes a new and convincing account of the origins of the instrument that changed mankind's vision of the universe.

"It is a 'must have' edition for any serious history of astronomy library."
- Owen Gingerich, Journal for the History of Astronomy

"I think that anyone seriously interested in the telescope's early history should skip directly to The Origins of the Telescope"
- James Caplan, Journal for the History of Astronomy



The ‘true inventor’ of the telescope. A survey of 400 years of debate
      Huib J. Zuidervaart
The city of Middelburg, cradle of the telescope
      Klaas van Berkel
The telescope at the court of the stadtholder Maurits
      Rienk Vermij
The long road to the invention of the telescope
      Rolf Willach
Suspicious spectacles. Medical perspectives on eyeglasses, the case of Hieronymus Mercurialis
      Katrien Vanagt
William Bourne's invention. Projecting a telescope and optical speculation in Elizabethan England
      Sven Dupré
Alhacen and Kepler and the origins of modern lens-theory
      A. Mark Smith
Complete inventions: The mirror and the telescope
      Eileen Reeves
Galileo and the telescope
      Albert Van Helden
Did Galileo copy the telescope? A ‘new’ letter by Paolo Sarpi
      Mario Biagioli
The world’s oldest surviving telescopes
      Marvin Bolt and Michael Korey
Labour on lenses: Isaac Beeckman’s notes on lens making
      Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis
Testing telescope optics of seventh-century Italy
      Giuseppe Molesini
Kepler’s legacy: telescopes and geometrical optics, 1611–1669
      Antoni Malet
The Netherlands, Siam and the telescope. The first Asian encounter with a Dutch invention
      Henk Zoomers
Music as a liberal art and the invention of the telescope
      Albert Clement

The authors

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Albert van Helden is professor emeritus of history at Rice University and the University of Utrecht.

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