It’s hard to imagine a world without the telescope. It’s fairly easy to assume without the telescope there wouldn’t have been a space race. Without the telescope our knowledge of this vast universe would be elementary at best. The human eye can only see so much. Thankfully, in the 17th century, the first practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands.
The first telescopes were used with glass lenses that magnified light. Decades later the first reflecting telescope was invented, which is the type of telescope most people and homes use today.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that telescopes became very sophisticated. Nowadays we have infrared, radio, and x-ray telescopes. Due to the mass production, the simplicity in which a telescope is created, and more universal interest in the skies, telescopes are fairly easy and affordable to purchase. So all you have to do on a brisk fall night is roll up that garage door, bring out the telescope, and take a look at the stars! Try and find Saturn and those gorgeous rings.
Back in the 1600s the telescopes for the most part only had a 3x magnification. Amazingly today NASA and other incredibly powerful telescopes around the world are able to magnify to an astonishing 25x magnification. The most sophisticated telescopes can actually see further with thing like light filtering.
The largest optical telescope ever built resides in Arizona and is called the Large Binocular Telescope. It was built by the United States, Italy, and Germany. It has made several large discoveries, including indirectly helping scientists discover locations for possible black holes (black holes cannot be seen by a telescope, only assumed to be in a location through clues: such as event horizons).
Telescopes have made it possible to land on the moon. Telescopes have made it possible to know where in the Milky Way galaxy our little solar system lies. Without these amazing devices we wouldn’t be anywhere we are today in terms of space discovery. Thank goodness for early astronomers like Galileo (and even ancient civilizations) who had a natural interest in those glowing objects in the sky.