Telescopes are important tools in astronomy that allow us to see celestial objects that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. By definition, telescopes are optical instruments that make distant objects appear magnified, but the technology that allows them to do so varies. Some historians credit the creation of the first optical telescope to a Dutch eyeglass maker named Hans Lippershey a little over 400 years ago. Although the design and technology of telescopes have changed through the ages, their mission remains the same: to explore the universe. Below we are taking a look at a few of the most important telescopes in astronomy.
While Galileo was not the inventor of the telescope or even the first person to use it to look at the sky, he changed the way it was used and paved the way for future astronomers. What made him stand out was that he used his telescope to look at the night sky and was able to draw conclusions that would forever change our understanding of the solar system. With his telescope, Galileo observed the moon, discovered four of Jupiter’s moons, and verified the phases of Venus.
Hubble Space Telescope
Named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Space Telescope has become something of a household name. The Hubble Telescope has been in orbit since 1990 and has contributed to a number of significant accomplishments. This telescope has helped astronomers to accurately estimate the age of the universe and has even taken images of other infant galaxies.
MeerKAT Radio Telescope
The MeerKAT radio telescope is comprised of 64 radio dishes and is based in South Africa. Its function is to help astronomers gain more insight into dark matter and the evolution of galaxies. Having spotted over 1,300 new galaxies, the MeerKAT is the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere.
The Gemini Observatory is owned by seven countries and is comprised of two identical telescopes, one on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the other on Cerro Pachón, Chile. Gemini is equipped with advanced infrared capabilities and optical tech that allows it to view deep into areas of the universe that we wouldn’t be able to see. It has seen things from the birth of a supernova to Earth-like planets.