Telescope | What Is A Telescope? World’s Largest Telescopes


In its simplest sense, a telescope is an observation tool that allows us to view space and is found in observatories.

Patented in 1608 by Hans Lippershey, a Dutch eyewear manufacturer, it has developed greatly over time with the influence of technology. In fact, it has become one of the largest observation instruments of today’s space exploration. We will also answer the question of what a telescope is in this content. You can also find information about telescope types and famous telescopes in our content.

What Is A Telescope?

A telescope is a tool used to view objects at a distance that cannot be clearly seen with the naked eye. It makes use of telescopes, lenses and mirrors produced to display these objects. In this way, it magnifies and allows us to see objects far away, even in space.

One of the basic tools of the science of astronomy is undoubtedly the telescope. Apart from small telescopes, devices with huge dimensions observe stars, planets, even galaxies.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the telescope, first revealed in 1608 by a spectacle manufacturer named Hans Lippershey, has helped us better understand what is happening around us. Later in 1609, Galileo built his own telescope to track celestial bodies.

The telescope, whose journey began like this, has become a tool of quite different types today. Optical telescopes, radio telescopes, telescopes used to capture various rays such as X and gamma are just some of them. Let’s take a brief look at the difference between these telescopes.

Optical Telescopes

Optical telescopes are divided into three within themselves. Lensed telescope, mirrored telescope and catadioptric telescopes that combine the two.

Lensed Telescope

As the name suggests, lenses are used in this type of telescope. The first type of telescope to emerge were telescopes with lenses. Both Lippershey in 1608 and Galileo a year after that appeared with their lensed lenses. The first type of telescope that comes to mind for the question” What is a telescope”.

Lensed telescopes basically work by refraction of light. For this reason, such telescopes are also called refractory telescopes. With thick and thin-edged lenses, this device is the most popular type of telescope. In addition to Galileo, astronomer Johannes Kepler also invented this type of telescope.

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Mirrored Telescope

The second type of optical telescope is a mirrored or reflective telescope. Unlike lensed telescopes, mirrored telescopes reflect light rather than refract it. It uses curved mirrors to reflect. The first known example of this type of telescope was invented by Isaac Newton in 1668.

This invention, which came 60 years after the first telescope appeared, solved an important problem. Optical distortion in lensed telescopes that existed at that time sometimes prevents telescopes from giving accurate results. Reflector telescopes have emerged as a solution to this situation, which is a problem, especially in astronomy research.

Catadioptric Telescope

It is the name given to telescopes that have both a mirror and a lens inside. It is the state of all the features of mirrored and lens telescopes collected on a single telescope. Thus, the problems with both types of telescopes are minimized.

It is a type of telescope where night vision is also advanced to get the clearest image without chromatic aberration.

Radio Telescopes

Dish-shaped telescopes used to capture radio waves are called radio telescopes. It is used to observe the radio waves produced by stars. In addition, not only stars, but all objects located in space and emitting radio waves can be studied thanks to radio telescopes.


Large Telescopes

You can’t handle what a telescope is and not talk about big telescopes. These telescopes are telescopes that astronomers use for Space Research, located in a number of places on earth. It can view not only planets and celestial bodies located in the Solar System, but also stars and celestial bodies located outside the Solar System. We’ve compiled for you some of the largest telescopes in the world.

Mauna Kea Observatories

The Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii features some of the world’s largest reflecting telescopes. Established at an altitude of 4,205 meters, the observatory is home to more than ten telescopes of different types. Moreover, it has a night vision that is free from light pollution by its location. Therefore, the appropriate environment is also available for the correct operation of telescopes.

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Gran Telescopio Canarias

Another of the world’s largest telescopes is located in the Canary Islands. The telescope, named Gran Telescopio Canarias, is located at an altitude of 2,267 meters above the ground. It also has a total mirror diameter of 10.4 meters. The telescope, which was produced over 7 years and spent a total budget of over 130 million euros, has been used for scientific research since 2009.


Another telescope on our list is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The South African great telescope, or SALT for short, is a mirrored telescope located at an altitude of about 1,800 meters. It also holds the title of being the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

Hobby – Eberly Telescope

Located in North America, The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is one of the largest optical telescopes in the world. Half the diameter of the mirror is 10 meters. It is located at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains in the U.S. state of Texas. It is located at an altitude of 2,026 meters above the ground.

Hubble Space Telescope

One of the most popular telescopes known on earth is the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope, named after the famous American astronomer Edwin Hubble, was moved to space in 1990. The telescope sent to space by the shuttle Discovery is a joint work of NASA and the European Space Agency.

Contrary to popular belief, the Hubble Space Telescope is not the first telescope to be launched into space. However, due to its higher features and huge size than others, it has made a greater impact.

The telescope, which will end its mission in 2021, will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope. But the HUT will continue its mission until the James Webb Space Telescope starts working.


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