Moon Over Padua

  • William Sheehan


In the autumn of 1608, a spectacle-maker in Flanders named Hans Lipperhey (or Lippershey) applied for a patent for his invention of an instrument “by means of which visible objects, though very distant from the eye of the observer, were distinctly seen as if nearby.” The States General in The Hague had hardly commenced considering this application when two other claimants stepped forward. In the end, Lipperhey received payment for his device but was denied the patent on the grounds that the principle of it was already too well known. Indeed, word spread quickly. By the following spring spyglasses were being offered for sale in the shops of spectacle-makers in Paris, and Galileo Galilei, professor of mathematics at the University of Padua in the “Serene Republic of Venice,” learned of it from a former pupil, Jacques Badovere. Realizing that the device was based on the principle of refraction, Galileo at once fitted two lenses – one plano-convex to serve as the objective, the other plano-concave to serve as the eyepiece – at either end of a lead tube, according to the legend made from the sawed-off pipe of a church organ. This first instrument magnified 3×, only about the same magnification as a good opera glass.


Lunar Surface Artistic Skill Church Organ Lead Tube Lunar Observation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WillmarUSA

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