The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope (American Philosophical Society Transaction 98-5, ISBN: 9781606189856)

July 7, 2010 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope
(American Philosophical Society Transaction 98-5, ISBN: 9781606189856)
by Rolf Willach (Paperback, 116 pages, 2008, $35.00)

Telescope CoverAfter the telescope became known in 1608-1609, a number of people in widely separate locations claimed that they had such a device long before the announcement came from The Hague.

In the summer of 1608, no one had a telescope, in the summer of 1609, everyone had one. How was this possible?

Author Rolf Willach has quietly tested early spectacle lenses in museums and private collections, and now he reports on this study, which gives an entirely new explanation of the invention of the telescope and solves the conundrum mentioned above.

Willach is an optical engineer and independent scholar who worked for several years in the Department of Physics at the Institute of Astronomy in Bern. He has written extensively on the history of the development of optics and the telescope. Illustrations.

“[Willach] has developed the most exciting thesis on the development of the telescope to appear in decades, and he deserves much credit for his bold and carefully proposed and illustrated conjectures,” writes Dr. Marvin Bolt, of Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, in the Journal for the History of Astronomy (February 2010).

“His resulting account is also an excellent example of how to use easily understood and compelling visual evidence without resorting to technological overkill and unnecessary detail.

“With this assemblage and sequence of a wide range of evidence over many centuries, Willach’s volume will inform any serious early telescope scholarship for the foreseeable future, and should be read by anyone interested in the origins of the telescope.”

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