While people often think the telescope was invented by Galileo Galilei, the credit should probably go to Hans Lippershey (1570-1619), a German-born lensmaker who settled in Middelburg, Holland. Lippershey disseminated the first practical designs and applied to the government of the Netherlands for a patent on the design in October 1608. Zacharias Jansen (1580-1638), also a lensmaker and also from Middelburg, may have made the first telescope earlier than Lippershey, but his work was not widely publicized until later. Galileo was in Venice in 1609 when he heard of the Dutch invention, was intrigued and set about trying to perfect it. He gained eternal fame the next year when he used an early telescope to discover that the planet Jupiter had at least four moons–and consequently those four largest moons of Jupiter are known as “the Galilean sattelites.”
“The earliest evidence of working telescopes were the refracting telescopes that appeared in the Netherlands in 1608. Their development is credited to three individuals: Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen, who were spectacle makers in Middelburg, and Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. Galileo greatly improved upon these designs the following year.”
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