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Throughout history, people have invented new ways to see more and see clearer. This doesn’t mean just developing glasses and contact lenses, though. Telescopes and binoculars have been used to enhance vision for centuries, too. Join us today for a history of the devices we use to visually shorten great distances.

A telescope

The first telescopes

The earliest known telescope dates back to 1608, when a Dutch man named Hans Lippershey developed one, although many believe they were invented before then. The following year is when they truly became well known, when famed early astronomer Galileo Galilei used one to observe the moon and planets. These early versions, known as refracting telescopes, used pieces of glass lined up in rows to magnify objects.

A mirror telescope

The mirror version

The idea to use mirrors in telescopes was posited not long after the invention of the refracting telescope, since mirrors would improve visual quality. Isaac Newton developed the first one in 1704. His model used a curved mirror that collected light and reflected it to a focal point, where the observer viewed the object.

The Hubble telescope

More improvements

Developments over the years helped refine and improve what a viewer could see through a telescope. For example, larger mirrors were developed for observatories. New lenses helped improve color quality. Radio and gamma rays are used to collect information. And, in 1990, the most famous telescope in the world – The Hubble – was launched into space after two decades of development. Why? A telescope in space would not have to deal with the atmospheric distortions Earthbound telescopes faced.

A child plays with binoculars

The introduction of binoculars

Binoculars are, essentially, two small telescopes bound together so the viewer can see through them with both eyes instead of just one. Binoculars have actually been around as long as Lippershey’s telescope, since he developed a set, too. The simplest version, known as Galilean binoculars, are virtually the same as the telescopes he developed.

Prism binoculars

Prism binoculars

By the 1800s, prisms were used to enhance the visual quality of binoculars. Some improved depth perception, while others improved brightness. Prisms also helped make binoculars more compact than their predecessors.

See clearly

Telescopes and binoculars can help you see far away, but CEENTA’s eye doctors can help you see clearly every day with routine eye exams and treatment for more serious conditions. Make an appointment at CEENTA and we will help you, whether you want to see things around you or the distant stars in the sky.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment at CEENTA? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart. In-office and virtual visit appointment are available.


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